A diverse and action packed series of events is promised for Mental Health Awareness Week in Rotorua this year.

According to a press release sent to the Rotorua Daily Post, a key aim for this year has been to shift the focus for the week from service providers and users to a broader community involvement, in order to increase mental health awareness.

The organisers say broader community awareness around mental health is vital to helping break down the stigma around mental illness.

Many of the activities this week reflect advantages of connecting with nature for good mental health and wellbeing.


The week's activities incorporate the Mental Health Foundation's suggested five ways to wellbeing which are give, be active, keep learning, take notice and connect.

The theme will also be reflected in competitions involving children, such as a drawing competition for primary-aged children and a speech competition for high school students.

The week's formal opening is at the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre, led by Mayor Steve Chadwick along with a range of cultural performers.

The theme for today is "connect" so an expo in the foyer of the performing arts centre will involve community groups and development experts talking about different areas of work around developing healthy children.

Nathan Wallis helped design and deliver a package of training around attachment, and is back as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, to deliver a keynote address for the week's launch.

Tomorrow is about volunteering, and the focus is on 'giving back' to our community givers.

The community give back session is at the Rotorua Arts Village from 11am to 1pm, involving the Salvation Army, Love Soup Kitchen, Foodbank and Fulfil Van.

People are being encouraged to give back by donating non-perishable foods.

"Keep learning" is the focus on Wednesday and activities include workshops by Roots of Empathy New Zealand programme manager Aly Fulcher.

Roots of Empathy is an evidence-based classroom programme that has helped reduce levels of aggression and bullying among school children while raising social/emotional competence and increasing empathy.

Ms Fulcher will speak about the programme at the Rotorua Hospital atrium from 10am to 12pm on Wednesday October 12, and at the Rotorua Public Library 2 to 4pm.

A series of workshops throughout Thursday will include music, poetry, art and tai chi, with a presence at the weekly night market - including youth focused music, Dancing with the Stars and an exhibition of works from the Art4Recovery programme.

Friday's awards ceremony at the Rotorua Lakes Council Chambers will see winners in the speech, writing and colouring-in competitions recognised, along with the signing of a mental health and addiction services relationship agreement.

Marita Ranclaud, the Mental Health Portfolio manager for Lakes DHB, said the agreement was built on a partnership of shared values and understanding of the roles, responsibilities and account abilities of all providers in the Lakes DHB area.

The village green is the venue for Saturday and Sunday's activities, including music, lolly scramble, and a family picnic on Sunday.

A ball is planned for Saturday night at Rydges Hotel from 6pm to 10pm.

Liz Carrington from Lakes DHB said the week was about focusing on staying well and promoting mental health wellbeing.

"We know there is still a misconception about what mental health might be or not be but what we do know is that it affects one in three or four of our population."