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Poor Mental Health Outcomes For Rainbow Community Have Kiwis Sweating

"Who you love, the pronouns you use or how you identify shouldn’t mean you have worse mental or physical health than others," says New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) Chief Executive Dr Jason Myers.

"Aotearoa is often portrayed as a progressive country because we’ve achieved milestones like marriage equality - but the fight for equity for Rainbow people is far from over. Almost half of Rainbow Kiwis have experienced mental illness*, too many of our youth are driven to self-harm**, and STIs like syphilis and HIV still disproportionately affect our communities***."

This is the motivation behind Sweat with Pride, NZAF’s new initiative that already has hearts pumping around Aotearoa. Sweat with Pride challenges Kiwis to get moving and raise money for Rainbow communities by being sponsored to exercise for 21 minutes every day this August.

Working up a sweat is an effective way to improve mental and physical wellbeing. Participants, affectionately known as ‘Sweaty Bettys’, will not only be investing in their own health - but the wellbeing of the Rainbow community.

"We’re asking Kiwis to take a stand for our Rainbow communities by signing up to Sweat with Pride. No matter your age, ability, identity, or fitness level, we need your sweat - people’s lives are on the line," says Dr Myers.

NZAF will use the money raised by dedicated Kiwis during Sweat with Pride to fund counselling, sexual health services and Rainbow community events. LGBTQI+ youth organisation RainbowYOUTH will also receive 20% of the profits for its important work with young people.

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To sign up for Sweat with Pride, visit

Where to get help:

  • 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) - 24/7
  • OUTLine: 0800 688 5463 (0800 OUTLINE)
  • NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 - 24/7
  • DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202

* The effects of discrimination, prejudice and exclusion (as demonstrated by the higher rates of social exclusion found in the wellbeing analyses) contribute to poorer mental health outcomes for rainbow people. Rainbow participants reported higher rates of anxiety, depression, and psychological distress. In their lifetimes, 56% of Rainbow participants experienced mental illness, compared to 30% in others.

The New Zealand Mental Health Monitor (2019). Wellbeing and Mental Health among Rainbow New Zealanders.

** Almost half of the same/both-sex attracted students (47.7%) reported seriously thinking about attempting suicide and approximately one-in-five (18.3%) had attempted suicide in the last 12 months. In comparison much smaller proportions of opposite-sex attracted students reported the same, with 14.7% having seriously thought about attempting suicide and 3.8% reporting having attempted suicide.

Lucassen, M.F.G., Clark, T. C., Moselen, E., Robinson, E.M., & The Adolescent Health Research Group. (2014). Youth’12 The Health and Wellbeing of Secondary School Students in New Zealand: Results for Young People Attracted to the Same Sex or Both Sexes. Auckland: The University of Auckland.

*** Despite gay and bi men representing less than 2% of the total New Zealand population, in 2019 they have accounted for 76% of locally acquired HIV infections University of Otago AIDS Epidemiology Group. (2019). AIDS - New Zealand.

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