National | Mental Health

‘Five Ways, Five Days’ the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week starts today with a focus on five ways to improve wellbeing.

The ‘Five Ways, Five Days’ theme asks New Zealanders to ‘take notice’ (me aro tonu), give (tukua), ‘be active’ (me kori tonu), ‘connect’ (me whakawhanaunga), and ‘keep learning’ (me ako tonu).

One in five people experience a mental illness and or addiction each year.

Mental Health Foundation Māori engagement team member Astley Nathan (Ngāpuhi, Waikato Tainui, Ngāti Whātua) says the ways to improve people’s mental well-being are “science-backed, but not rocket science”.

“[For example], taking notice of your environment, things that make you feel good, go out for a walk and you see a flower, then you go ‘That’s a beautiful flower’. That keeps you in the present moment.

“We don’t want to be thinking of the past and regret it. We don’t want to be worrying about anxiety thinking of the future. We want to be here in the now and in the moment.

Easy steps to improve wellbeing

It’s a toolkit of ways, which is based around Te Whare Tapa Whā, a model developed by Tā Mason Durie, to simplify actions to improve wellbeing and not take ‘outlandish’ actions.

“They’re easy steps, that’s the most important thing. People think you have to do these outlandish things like go and meditate for 48 hours or something. In actuality, you can do something for five minutes a day and it can significantly improve your wellbeing,” Nathan says.

Workplaces and schools around the country have taken on the theme of what the five ways mean to them, collectively and individually.

“It’s not about creating or fundraising or making anything - it’s about bringing it back to self, bringing it back to the individual, bringing it back to the five ways that can operate and work [for you].

“There’s been a big focus on wellbeing in the workplace, so it‘s awesome to see people getting among it, big smiles.”

If you need help or are concerned about someone who may need help, contact Lifeline, 0800 543 354, or the Suicide Crisis Helpline 0508 tautoko.

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