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ABCs of Happiness Mental Health Awareness Week

The ABCs of Happiness Mental Health Awareness Week 2006

Bay of Plenty and Lakes residents are being encouraged to think about what makes them happy, to help celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week this year.

The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 9-15 October is ‘Happiness: Accept, Belong, Connect’ or ‘Ko te whanaungatanga te maioha’. Community groups throughout the region are planning events such as walking around the Mount, health expos, seminars, information stalls on mental health and wellbeing, and fun day activities at local marae.

“The concept of mental health can be difficult to grasp – but everyone understands the meaning of happiness, which is why it’s the focus of this year’s awareness week,” says Mental Health Foundation Health Promoter Toni Ashmore. “It’s a great opportunity to get people to focus on fundamental things in life such as acceptance, belonging and connectedness.”

The first New Zealand Mental Health Survey (2006) shows that almost half of New Zealanders will experience mental health issues during their lifetime and many of our young people have experienced this state in the past year.

“Factors such as poverty, inadequate housing and unemployment may place people in a position with a higher likelihood of experiencing mental unwellness but at the same time, it’s important to recognise other factors that influence one’s wellbeing,” says Toni Ashmore.

So why not rise to the ABC Challenge during Mental Health Awareness Week 9-15 October?

Accept is about realising we have diversity in our communities and valuing that. Increasingly our communities are becoming more multicultural and accepting and celebrating diversity makes communities stronger.

Challenge 1: Say hello to someone new each day this week. You may find this little gesture provides an opportunity for you to talk more and learn about this person and what makes them who they are. And this knowledge of the other person will lead to a greater acceptance – of each other, by each other. Your gesture will work for you and the other person.

Belong is about knowing who you are, your culture, and where you come from. It’s also about being or becoming part of a community, family, whanau or group of friends. Belonging helps us feel valued.

Challenge 2: Stop and tell another person how good it is that they belong to your family, your group or your workplace.

Connect is about being connected with community groups and activities, which adds to a sense of belonging and place. Meeting and spending time with people, asking for and offering help, and being a good friend, are all ways of ensuring happiness.

Challenge 3: Make an opportunity this week for a ‘connection’ to happen. Or to put it more actively, just connect with someone - connect over anything.

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