New Zealanders have experienced some of their most turbulent times in recent history with pandemic lockdowns, escalation of geopolitical situations and the pressure of the financial squeeze weighing down on whānau and individuals.
And Dr Mataroria Lyndon (Nō Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Whātua, Waikato), the co-founder and clinical director of Tend, a full-service primary healthcare provider offering GP services online and in the clinic, says effort needs to be made to reconnect by meeting friends and whānau in person in meaningful places.
“Being able to be outside of our households but also reconnecting to our whānau, to loved ones, to friends, is an important step we can all take to be able to have that support, that tautoko, that whanaungatanga and that manaaki through those connections”.
Currently, one in five New Zealanders suffer from mental illness or addiction and Mental Health Week, which has been running for 30 years, was created to point out the importance of mental health and engage people in activities designed to strengthen and uplift their wellbeing.
The theme of this year's Mental Health Week is "Reconnect with people that lift you up".
The 2018 He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction said 34 per cent of Māori respondents were more likely to show symptoms of depression, 36 per cent more likely to show anxiety and Māori with physiological distress were at 34 per cent.
“It might relate to some issues such as living in hardship, traumatic experiences both historically and now, also a lack of access to health services that meet the needs of whānau Māori,” Lyndon says.
He also advises that mental health is directly linked to physical health and that working on physical health by keeping active, having a good night’s sleep and eating healthily would benefit mental and emotional wellbeing.