Staff across the entire Central Coast Local Health District (CCLHD) donned their loudest shirts on February 1 in support of Loud Shirt Fairy Floss Friday.
The event was founded by Wyong Hospital’s, Dr Michael Kale and Dr Benji Pfister, to raise awareness around the high rate of suicide and mental health issues amongst healthcare workers.
“There is a cruel irony in the disproportionate rates of suicide and mental illnesses facing individuals who dedicate their careers to helping others,” Dr Kale said.
“Loud Shirt Fairy Floss Friday aims to empower the healthcare community to raise awareness and show support to each other,” he added.
Back for its third instalment across the CCLHD, Dr Kale said he came up with the idea for Loud Shirt Fairy Floss Friday after a family member was lost to suicide.
“My uncle was a carnival operator whom we lost to suicide.
“He used to make fairy floss, and I received the machine that he used to make it,” Dr Kale said.
He and Dr Pfister were both keenly aware of the disproportionately high rate of mental health issues plaguing their profession, as well as the mounting pressures facing their hospital community under a surging population.
That was when the pair thought bringing a touch of whimsy to Wyong Hospital would do everyone some good.
“There is a sense of childish carefree nostalgia in fairy floss.
“I believe the juxtaposition created, carrying this highly visible and edible representation, while wearing a loud shirt in the conservative hospital environment, makes the events’ message so much more powerful,” Dr Kale said.
“The founding principle behind this movement is the realisation that we often spend more of our waking hours with colleagues at work than we do with our friends and family.
“Loud Shirt Fairy Floss Friday encourages all members that make up the healthcare community, not just doctors and nurses, to stand in solidarity against issues facing those who spend their lives saving the lives of others,” he said.
Loud Shirt Fairy Floss Friday also doubles as a fundraiser for mental health organisation, The Black Dog Institute, and since the inaugural event, the movement is on the rise, spreading to Local Health Districts across NSW and as far afield as the Gold Coast.
“A success beyond our expectations, on the inaugural Loud Shirt Fairy Floss Friday, we saw unity amongst all scopes of the healthcare community, from environmental staff to allied health, nurses and doctors alike.
“This led to an even bigger success in 2018, and we cannot wait for this year’s event.
“So please join us in showing support for all our CCLHD workers, indulge in some fairy floss and tell depression to get flossed,” Dr Kale said.
Website, Jan 26
Dr Andrew Montague, Central Coast Local Health District
Website, Jan 28
Dr Michael Kale, Loud Shirt Fairy Floss Friday