How are you coping?
It's a familiar question we pose to each other these days.
For me, it's a question that has more meaning than the ritualistic "How are you?", "I'm good thanks" back-and-forth.
When I ask "how are you coping?" I find that people tend to give a more honest answer - I'm genuinely interested in that answer, and I brace for the truth - whatever that may be.
Today is the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week in Aotearoa.
Its timing is apt. The Covid-19 Delta outbreak that plunged the country into level 4 lockdown just five weeks ago also did untold damage to our country's mental health.
People are not only hurting financially but emotionally as well.
I heard clinical psychologist Karen Nimmo during a TV interview describe this lockdown as tough compared to last year's, especially for those who felt they didn't have enough left in their "resilience tank".
"We're a long way from the land of teddy bears and sourdough and baking and TV competitions."
It doesn't have the novelty and the sense of pulling together as last year did.
She said people may find it difficult to manage even the everyday stresses of life.
So drawing back the curtain on mental health this week couldn't come at a better time.
This year's theme is "Take time to kōrero/mā te kōrero, ka ora – a little chat can go a long way".
Talking does help, and that doesn't necessarily mean to a professional, but to a friend, a workmate, boss or whānau member.
Reaching out does a great deal for my mental health and I treasure the people who are there to listen and sometimes just the act of listening does a great deal to help.
Gone are the days when you were told to "buck up" if you were feeling down.
Now our mental wellbeing is much more acknowledged and respected.
As Nimmo said: "Mental health is fragile and we have to look after it".
Where to get help:
● Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
● Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
● Youth services: (06) 3555 906
● Youthline: 0800 376 633
● Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
● Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
● Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
● Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
● Helpline: 1737
● Anxiety Helpline: 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is atrisk, call 111