Monday, September 23 marks the start of New Zealand Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW).
Endorsed by the World Mental Health Foundation, over 150 countries mark a Mental Health Awareness Week at some point in the year.
In New Zealand, this year’s the theme is Explore your way to wellbeing – Whaia te ara hauora, Whitiora.
Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s awareness week, and what you can get out of it.
For MHAW 2019, the Mental Health Foundation is asking Kiwis “to explore their way to wellbeing”.
“That means we want you to discover the things that make you feel good and do more of them! When you uplift your personal wellbeing, you uplift the wellbeing of your whānau, communities and Aotearoa as a whole,” according to the awareness week’s official website.
Over the course of the week, there are some 72 activities and events taking place all across New Zealand.
From Nathan Hedley’s stand-up comedy show about his experiences with mental ill-health, to outdoor mindfulness workshops taking place across the different maunga of Auckland, there’s a broad variety of events happening up and down the nation.
Although they vary in nature and type, these events share a common goal: elevating our understanding of mental and improving outcomes for us as individuals, whanau, communities and a nation as a whole.
From Marlborough to Northland and everywhere in between, find out what’s going on near you at the MHAW ‘What’s On’ page.
How can I get involved?
Whether you’re on a solo mission to boost your mental health, or want to embark on something more collaborative with friends or family, Mental Health Awareness Week provides a wealth of resources to help you on your journey.
That journey could simply be learning a little bit more about the importance of improving our mental health, or it could be a starting point for a life-long quest to sustainable wellness and a healthier, happier mind.
Again, the Mental Health Awareness Week’s official website contains a plethora of material to allow you to either dip your toes or dive in head-first.
Individuals and communities
When you uplift your own wellbeing and happiness, the more likely you are to raise the mental health of those around you – particularly your whanau and community.
There are a number of activities spread across five core themes to enable us to achieve this. You can try these at home but you’re encouraged to “get out there” and allow nature to carry you to where you want to be.
The aim is to help “you, your whānau and community explore wellbeing through Te Whare Tapa Whā – a model of health that helps us identify where we need extra support”, according to the MHAW website.
As the NZ Mental Health Foundation says, “when your mental wellbeing is strong and your workplace is supportive, you will feel more engaged in your mahi, be more productive and have higher morale and job satisfaction”.
Each set of activities is tied to the same core mental health principles underlying the Individuals and communities section, and there’s one for each workday, Monday through to Friday.
What else can I do?
Ultimately, what you get out of Mental Health Awareness Week will be determined by how much you put in.
From volunteering, getting on stage and sharing your experience to a room full of strangers, leading fundraising efforts, it’s possible to go “full-noise”.
But that’s not for everyone.
Simply sitting back to listen, reflect and observe other people’s experiences can be just as meaningful, depending on who you are and where you are on your mental health journey.
People will get more involved than others, so if active involvement doesn’t sound like you, that shouldn’t diminish whatever you do decide to put in.
After all, if you feel you’ve made a small contribution and got a small amount of progress in return, that’s better than no progress at all.
Kia kaha, Aotearoa.