Kiwis encouraged to talk during this year's Mental Health Awareness Week

By Tumamao Harawira

"We've needed this mental health awareness week as we've never needed it before. In fact, every week should mental health awareness week." That's from Mental Health Awareness Week chief executive Shaun Robinson.

During this year's week Kiwis are encouraged to take note of everyday conversations that make them feel good and to do it more often. Over time, they can lead to creating meaningful connections and help them understand each other better. 

It's also important to know who we can count on when times are tough or a bit more challenging. "We don't need to be face to face to feel the benefits of a kōrero," Robinson says.

"Have a kōrero with someone you care about and many people who are locked down in Tāmaki - maybe you have to do that by text or over the phone."

Robinson says the lockdown has been difficult for those who are suffering. In the provisional monthly results on Covid-19 impacts 2020/2021 New Zealand Health Survey, 9.1 per cent of respondents said they had experienced high, or very high, levels of psychological distress in the past four weeks.

"There is no doubt Covid-19 is a huge challenge in so many parts of our lives and every part of our lives impacts our mental health."

He says talking to someone can be a platform to support the body and mind.

"Even just those little moments of connecting with someone will be giving you a little pop of oxytocin in your brain and other brain chemicals."

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 runs from September 27 until October 3.