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Mental Health Awareness Week Acknowledges The Tough Year We’ve Had

There’s just over a week to go until Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) kicks off across Aotearoa on 21 September. Close to 10,000 workplaces, communities, whānau, schools and kura are gearing up to Reimagine Wellbeing Together – He Tirohanga Anamata.

Mental Health Foundation (MHF) chief executive Shaun Robinson says the theme of the week acknowledges that this year has not been an easy one.

“Many of us have had to reconsider the experiences, actions and surroundings that make us feel good, stay well, and uplift our wellbeing,” he says. “Restrictions on living have presented challenges for many of us – and opportunities too. I’m hearing from New Zealanders about the good things they’re doing to acknowledge their own mental wellbeing right now. We want to learn more about the simple, everyday things you’ve done this year to look after yourself and your whanau”.

Mr Robinson acknowledges that everyone goes through ups and downs in life – that’s a completely normal part of being human. He says sometimes our sense of wellbeing might feel strong, sometimes not, and that’s OK.

“Wellbeing is for everyone and isn’t just for people who’ve experienced mental illness. 1 in 5 Kiwis experience a mental illness each year and it’s important to remember that with the right tautoko/support many people can and do live well with mental illness.”

The daily themes of MHAW this year are inspired by Māori health model, Te Whare Tapa Whā, designed by leading Māori health advocate and MHF patron Sir Mason Durie.

Activities include the Wellbeing Photo Challenge with prizes up for grabs; a colouring competition for tamariki/children, which is a chance for them to creatively reimagine their wellbeing by drawing the things that make them feel good; a calendar of events showcasing a variety of activities happening across the motu/country and resources are available to download and order for free.

Robyn Shearer, Deputy Director General, Mental Health and Addiction at the Ministry of Health says “MHAW is a great opportunity for us to reflect on the simple but powerful things we can all do every day to maintain our wellbeing. Remembering and practicing what got us through tough times before can help us build resilience for when times are more challenging.”

There’s still time to register for MHAW (21-27 September) to receive ideas on how to get involved in the week, see what events are happening in your local area and receive the latest news:

Mental Health Awareness Week is 21-27 September 2020. To learn about the week, visit

  • The popular Wellbeing Photo Challenge runs from 21-25 September, and there is a new theme each day. There are daily prizes, and the grand prize is a Nikon camera worth $1,899.
  • People can order or download free MHAW resources from
  • Hashtags: #MHAWNZ #ReimagineWellbeingTogether #HeTirhangaAnamata

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