Record numbers for Mental Health Awareness Week
2nd October 2017
A record number of people, organisations and workplaces have signed up to take part in Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW), which runs from 9 – 15 October.
The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) says it’s been blown away by the support and enthusiasm for MHAW around New Zealand.
This year, the MHF is reminding Kiwis that Nature is key.
“We’re encouraging Kiwis from all walks of life to stop thinking of nature as something locked away in national parks and forests but as the daisies in the berm, the tree outside the window and the vast, beautiful sky above,” Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson says.
Spending time in nature helps to grow, support and nurture our mental health and wellbeing.
“When I go for a jog or a surf it helps to restore me when I feel run-down and it helps to keep stress at bay,” says Mr Robinson. “For some people connecting with nature means taking time to look out the window or keeping a photo of a special place on your desk. There are lots of meaningful ways each of us can unlock our wellbeing by spending time with nature every day.”
To get New Zealanders thinking about how easy it is to schedule in some quality time with nature, the MHF is holding a national MHAW Lockout on World Mental Health Day – Tuesday 10 October.
“Busy, stressful workplaces can lead to reduced productivity, absenteeism and high turnover. The MHAW Lockout is a great way to plant the seed with your staff that their health and wellbeing matters,” Mr Robinson says.
“Spending quality time with nature will support your staff to feel happier and more productive.”
Workplaces big and small have signed up – including New Zealand Rugby.
Something for everyone
From a hikoi in Kaitaia, to a New Zealand-wide, outdoor yoga class and a photo challenge sponsored by Nikon, there’s something for everyone this MHAW.
“Last year, we heard of people living with mental illness who couldn’t face going outside, but the photo challenge encouraged them to take that first step out the door,” Mr Robinson says.
The MHF is also working on a special MHAW project for central Christchurch, which will see a ‘Nature is Key’ mural go up on a city wall.
“We want to add to the growing vibrancy of Christchurch, while also supporting people to grow their own wellbeing – watch this space,” says Mr Robinson.
Spending time in nature great for your wellbeing
Nearly 50% of New Zealanders will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime, and depression is set to overcome heart diseases as the biggest global health burden by 2020.
Research has shown that spending time in nature is great for mental and physical health.
Evidence proves it makes us happier, decreases feelings of depression and anxiety, improves concentration, buffers against stress, makes our lives meaningful and reduces health inequalities related to poverty.
There will be a range of other events to celebrate MHAW throughout the country.