Times have been tough recently, and mental health and wellbeing is something we need to work on every day, a local advocate says.
Mental Health Awareness Week kicks off today and Kiwis are being encouraged to Reimagine Wellbeing Together – He Tirohanga Anamata.
Local mental health advocate Michael Naera says we needed to change the narrative around talking about mental health, making sure there was no shame in reaching out if people were struggling in some form, and ensuring that when someone did reach out they were accepted with aroha.
"I think we've moved a long way from the 80s, but there's still a long way to go. The idea that we need to toughen up is still around. There are still the stereotypes that we have to be tough and successful."
Naera said the theme for this year's Mental Health Awareness Week was 'Take time to kōrero/mā te kōrero, ka ora'.
He thought kōrero [talk or discussion] encompassed a range of things. As well as talking face-to-face, it could also include getting outdoors, your spiritual wellbeing and doing something you love.
It's about taking on that listening role in kōrero too, he said.
"I think the other thing around kōrero is that we think we have to use our mouths all the time, but we've got one mouth and two ears."
Naera believed it was important to use holistic ways when thinking about kōrero and that mental health maintenance was something we needed to work on every day.
"It's like a car WOF, that's how we should treat mental health and wellbeing. Make sure you've always got your warrant and everything is in balance."
He said the use of digital devices and social media were two big issues.
"We can get so consumed in content online, and when you're spending too much time on social media you feel lethargic and tired.
"Social media can be a platform to show off, share views and opinions, and that creates anxiety.
"What you don't see is when people switch off social media there might be depression and anxiety."
He recommended having digital-free hours or half days.
"It works wonders for your life. You get to look up and see nature for what it is."
He said staying up at night on devices with artificial light could also leave people feeling tired and like they haven't had a good night's sleep.
Naera thought going forward it was important to work with whānau so that if a loved one was distressed, whānau could confidently help.
"I think personally it would be great if we can get our whole [population of] 5 million to have that intellect around mental health, and be able to sit down with whānau when struggling.
"At the moment we are relying on services to do that for us. It's about encouraging our whānau to be the recipients of information and being healers, rather than just saying, 'ring so-and-so to get your support'."
According to a study commissioned 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) 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, not 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 the 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."
Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633 or text 234 (available 24/7)
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (12pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 or text 4202 (available 24/7)
• Anxiety helpline: 0800 269 4389 (0800 ANXIETY) (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.