We can all agree that 2020 has been a year we'd all rather forget. Between the wildfires in Australia, George Floyd's killing by US Police Officers, Kobe Bryant being killed in a helicopter crash to name just a few and then of course, there's the global pandemic!
2020 has affected all of us in one way or another. Whether that's through employment, business, the health of ourselves or others, it's all taking a toll on our mental health and this week it's an opportunity to reach out to loved ones, friends and colleagues to ask if they are ok and to listen.
The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week this year is Reimagine Wellbeing Together – He Tirohanga Anamata. It's an opportunity to connect and consider the wellbeing of ourselves and those around us. Since 1993, Mental Health Awareness Week is run by the Mental Health Foundation who provide free training and resources and also advocate for policies and services that support people with experience of mental illness, and also their families/whānau and friends.
2020 is a year where 'unprecedented' was uttered in almost every sentence and we experienced lockdowns and disruption to our lives unlike most of us have ever experienced before. It was a crazy period of uncertainty and left a lot of us feeling scared and nervous about what was going on and what the future may look like. New Zealand as a country really came together and we did an outstanding job when it came to eliminating COVID-19. We spent time at home, appreciated the family time that ensued, we baked, we were more active by taking walks and riding our bikes and took part in teddy bear hunts.
Our work life has experienced a lot of changes. A lot of people have been working from home and others have had their employment situation change. Clinical psychologist Dr Dougal Sutherland says employers need to make open conversations a priority. He says it needs to become "business as usual" and that when talking to colleagues or employees, it needs to be 'on the agenda all the time'.
Mental Health Foundation Chief Executive Shaun Robinson reminds us that we're not doing this alone and that if you're feeling off-balance right now, know that it's completely normal to feel that way.
"Mental Health Awareness Week is a timely reminder of how important it is to embrace the simple things we can do each day to really help strengthen our wellbeing."
There's a number of helpful resources you can find HERE.
Mental Health Awareness Week has a number of events on throughout the week throughout the country from walks to yoga, art to a number of live webinars from experts. Sir John Kirwan is also hosting live online interviews talking to wellness expert Lila O'Farrell, Jazz Thornton from Voices of Hope, Nikki Hart on nutrition and All Blacks strength and conditioning coach Dr Nic Gill. You can find out what's on in your area HERE.
It's hard during this period of disruption to remember to reach out to friends and family but staying connected is a great way to be there for someone and check if they are ok. A phone call, a text, a Facebook message or a video chat if you haven't seen someone for a while, are great ways to reach out and would no doubt make their day.
If they seem down, withdrawn, quieter than usual or not behaving as they normally would, then it might be a good idea to reach out and start a conversation. Ask if they are ok, listen with an open mind, encourage action to help them through this period and the feeling they are currently experiencing and also check in with them to see how they're going and let them know you are there.
If you need to talk to someone else:
Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.
0800 543 354 or (09) 522 2999
Free text 4357 (HELP)
0800 376 633
0800 726 666
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