It’s Mental Health Week, today is Mental Health Day and Associate Health Minister Todd McClay is urging people to connect:
The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week, which started Monday 7 October and finishes on Friday 11 October is CONNECT.
“Supportive friends, families whānau and communities are an integral component of good mental health. It is a responsibility that falls on all of us to connect with those around us and ensure that they are supported,” says Mr McClay. . .
Mr McClay will be attending a community barbecue in his electorate, organised by Lifewise Rotorua, to celebrate the week. Lifewise Rotorua is a community service for people and their whānau experiencing difficulty with their mental health or addictions.
As Associate Minister of Health with responsibility for mental health and addiction and suicide prevention, Mr McClay stressed the importance of maintaining community networks and social bonds with those around you.
“Whether it’s extending a helping hand, inviting your neighbour over for a cup of tea or checking in with friends and family, a small gesture can make a big difference.”
For those who were struggling or wanted to talk to someone, New Zealand has a range of services available, including the depression.org.nz website, the 0800 111 757 depression helpline and the lowdown.org.nz website for young people.
“If you’ve got concerns about your health or someone else’s, then reach out and connect. Help is only a visit, a phone call or a text message away,” says Mr McClay. . .
Federated Farmers would like to emphasise the importance of talking about depression and removing the stigma around the issue.
“Federated Farmers’ ‘When Life’s a Bitch’ campaign really took the lid off the issue in rural communities and this week is a great time to reinforce just how important it is to be open and aware of the issue,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Mental Health Spokesperson.
“When there are more suicides in New Zealand than road deaths, drownings and workplace accidents combined, and we are rated 22nd out of 23 countries for social wellbeing, there is a serious need to stand up and pay attention.
“Whilst environmental pressures have dropped for some, not all farmers are in the clear and people struggling with depression are still slipping under the radar. On the surface farmers may seem like they have it together however, the hangover from the drought is still very much here.
“I am still talking to farmers around the country who are under severe financial pressure from the drought and other adverse weather events. It is important to understand that depression is not a problem that just comes and goes with the weather.
“Positive change comes from people talking and connecting with each other, we are stronger when we band together. Conversations build communities creating awareness and breaking down the barriers of isolation.
“For this week we are focusing on connecting with each other, and there are a few events on around the country that you can attend as well as an online wellbeing game that makes you the master of your own happiness.
“Whilst we can help ourselves by talking and connecting with others there is more that needs to be done. Federated Farmers and the Rural General Practice Network are calling for the Government to recognise the issue by providing specific funding for rural mental health,” concluded Mrs Maxwell.
If someone breaks a leg we can see the plaster and generally know how to help.
You can’t put plaster on a broken spirit. We often don’t recognise mental health problems. If we do it’s harder to know what to do, although connecting – providing the practical support and emotional comfort we’d offer to someone with a physical illness is a good start.
There’s more information at the Mental Health Foundation.