Times have been tough for all recently, and mental health/wellbeing is a topic many in our communities want to shed more light on.
Mental Health Awareness Week kicks off today
and Kiwis are being encouraged to Reimagine Wellbeing Together – He Tirohanga Anamata.
Local artist Mr G (Graham Hoete) is passionate about mental health and using his platform to help create healthy discussion around it.
He said there was a lot of talk around encouraging people who might be struggling with mental health to reach out.
"However, sometimes when you're in that space the last thing you feel like doing is reaching out, so I like to also put emphasis on reaching in.
"What I mean by that is checking in on our family and bros, because regardless of how someone may appear on the outside, you never know what's happening on the inside.
"Take the time to initiate conversations. It's about creating environments that encourage discussion, keeping it natural and checking in."
He said, "I went through a suicide point in my life. The main thing for me is encouraging people to check in and it's important because people's lives are at stake."
When someone was struggling mentally, and it got to the point where it became debilitating and affected their daily function, it could also have a ripple effect on their family or workplace, he said.
Health needed to be a priority in life, and he thought it was important to take a holistic approach, including the physical, spiritual and emotional.
"Like the four legs of a chair, if one is damaged it affects the balance of the whole chair.
"I also think one of the big messages is that there is hope."
Lifezone Church Tauranga is launching a free nine-week wellbeing course and access to experts to help people tackle taboo topics and areas of their lives that might be affecting their health.
The course combines all aspects of wellbeing, including the physical, emotional, relational, vocational, spiritual and financial sides. It's to provide a safe place where people can talk freely and seek help in any area of their lives.
The course will be available both in person and online.
Lifezone Church pastor Steve Murray said, "Whether they need to connect with a personal trainer, a dietician, a financial coach or a counsellor, this course will provide the pathways to help attendees on their journey to greater wellbeing".
Organisers decided to run this course because people's wellbeing was important to them and they believed everyone had room for improving their quality of life, he said.
"This nine-week series allows us to provide opportunities for people to advance their wellbeing and mental health by creating a friendly, safe, and non-judgmental environment where people can feel supported, seen, and heard.
"Feeling connected, especially in the current environment, is so important and we want to help people make these connections, not just with industry professionals but with others who might be struggling with the same issues."
He said good mental health was important because it brought high life satisfaction and a sense of meaning or purpose.
"Having good mental health is not just so you can get through the day, but so you can form healthy relationships with others, and enjoy and create the life you want."
The series started with an introductory session yesterday
at Lifezone Church Tauranga and will be live-streamed to online audiences at lifezone.online.church/.
The sessions will continue every Sunday at 9.30am for nine weeks, touching on different aspects of wellbeing each week. Recorded sessions will be available to watch online at 11.30am and 8pm, with host support and interactive channels such as public and private live chat.
Go to www.lifezone.church for more information.
According to a study commissioned early this year by the Mental Health Foundation, a quarter of New Zealanders currently have poor levels of mental and emotional wellbeing.
Women (one in three), and those with a yearly household income of $50,000 or less were at particular risk of falling into this category.
Those who did not have good lifestyle habits to support their wellbeing were heavily represented in the at-risk quarter of the population, and under 35s and Pasifika also had lower-than-average wellbeing scores.
Mental Health Foundation (MHF) chief executive Shaun Robinson said the theme of the week acknowledged that this year had not been an easy one.
"Many of us have had to reconsider the experiences, actions, and surroundings that make us feel good, stay well and uplift our wellbeing," he said.
"Restrictions on living have presented challenges for many of us – and opportunities too. I'm hearing from New Zealanders about the good things they're doing to acknowledge their own mental wellbeing right now. We want to learn more about the simple, everyday things you've done this year to look after yourself and your whānau."
Robinson said everyone went through ups and downs in life, which was a normal part of being human, and sometimes our sense of wellbeing might feel strong, sometimes not, which was okay.
"Wellbeing is for everyone and isn't just for people who've experienced mental illness. One in five Kiwis experience a mental illness each year and it's important to remember that with the right tautoko/support many people can and do live well with mental illness."
The daily themes of MHAW this year are inspired by Māori health model, Te Whare Tapa Whā, designed by leading Māori health advocate and MHF patron Sir Mason Durie.
Activities include the Wellbeing Photo Challenge with prizes up for grabs, a colouring competition for tamariki/children, which is a chance for them to creatively reimagine their wellbeing by drawing the things that make them feel good, a calendar of events showcasing a variety of activities happening across the motu/country, and resources available to download and order for free.
Ministry of Health mental health and addiction director-general Robyn Shearer said: "MHAW is a great opportunity for us to reflect on the simple but powerful things we can all do every day to maintain our wellbeing.
"Remembering and practising what got us through tough times before can help us build resilience for when times are more challenging."