Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on ‘Taking the time to kōrero’

By Marena Mane

"A little chat can go a long way,"  is the message behind this year's Mental Health Awareness week, which started this week. 

The theme of the week is "Take time to kōrero, 'Mā te kōrero, ka ora".

“Having a kōrero,” says Christina Looker, Kaiwhakarite, Māori engagement specialist for the Mental Health Foundation, is people's fundamental human nature to have contact with whānau, "and doing things together is our natural nature as Māori".

“The most important thing about that is being able to discuss heavy topics such as mental health, or things that are not so heavy like our everyday small conversations,” she says.

Staying connected in lockdown

Looker says that people are fortunate to be able to stay connected through technology, like playing Kahoot online, having Zui (Zoom hui) and Zinu (Zoom drinks), especially in areas of Aotearoa that are in and out of Covid restriction levels.

“Although we're living in such uncertain times of Covid I suppose in a positive way, it's given our whenua time to heal, it's also given us time to noho tahi, to sit with ourselves and really reflect on what's really important.” 

Being creative

Arts and crafts, according to Looker, throws light on individuals who aren't inclined to connect in what the world considers "normal," and digital resources allow them to express and explore on a deeper level, as well as providing them with space to be creative.

“I did read something that said, 'When a child is bored, that's when their creativity and imagination flourishes,’ so sometimes it's best just to leave them to figure out what it is they want to do and it creates creativity.”

Mental Health Awareness Week

Looker explains that this week there are different challenges for every day:

  • Rāhina, Monday’s challenge was, “He hononga tangata, he hononga aroha,” to encourage people to reconnect with someone they haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • Rātū, Tuesday’s challenge is, “E puta ki te taiao,” to encourage whānau to go outside in nature with someone.
  • Rāapa, Wednesday’s challenge is, “Te Whare Tapa Whā,” designed by Sir Mason Durie, to have a kōrero with someone about exploring the four dimensions of wellbeing.
  • Rāpare, Thursday’s challenge is, “Takahata ki tētahi,” to encourage people to connect through kindness.
  • Rāmere, Friday’s challenge is, “Noho Tahi, Kōrero Tahi,” taking time to connect and reflect with whānau