Top tips for acknowledging Mental Health Awareness Week.

This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) is Reimagine Wellbeing Together: He Tirohanga Anamata. It’s more timely than ever as we continue to deal with the uncertainties and stresses caused by Covid-19. 

MHAW is a time to reflect on your personal and organisational wellbeing – and for workplaces, these behaviours need to be implemented from the top. Here are some tips for employers and managers that’ll help you create a mentally healthy and resilient organisation

Incorporate Te Whare Tapa Whā

Did you know Mental Health Awareness Week is underpinned by the Māori wellbeing model Te Whare Tapa Whā?

The model was created by leading Māori health advocate, Sir Mason Durie, and provides a Māori perspective and a useful way for us to think about health as a whare, or house. The whare (known as Te Whare Tapa Whā) has four walls and each wall represents a different dimension of health. All four walls are needed and must be in balance for the house to be strong.

Each day of MHAW is inspired by one of the aspects Te Whare Tapa Whā. Check out the Mental Health Awareness Week website where they have a great description of the model and how you can implement its principles into your personal and work life during the week – and beyond!

Zero tolerance for bullying and discrimination

Although this may seem obvious, bullying and discrimination aren’t always right in your face. Quite often it’s  subtle and difficult to identify. Your people need to be able to identify bullying behaviour, have the confidence to call it out and then take steps to deal with the situation. Educate your team about what bullying and discrimination look like in the workplace – from the smallest microaggressions to outright abuse. Reinforce expected behaviour guidelines and set an example by taking immediate action if they aren’t met.

Asking for help is A-OK

Make discussing emotions easy and have support readily available. Learning about other people’s experiences can play a major role in reducing stigma and improving understanding – so, sharing your personal story can be really powerful. If you have experience with anxiety or depression – either directly or supporting someone close to you – you might like to speak about it openly to tackle the stigma. Or perhaps you could arrange for an expert to speak to your workplace?

Make mentally healthy behaviours the norm

Build mentally healthy behaviours into your culture by reinforcing positive ways of working, such as:

  • promoting work-life balance
  • involving your team in meaningful ways (e.g. relevant decision-making)
  • capitalising on opportunities for employee growth and development
  • acknowledging and celebrating employee milestones.

Hear it from the horse’s mouth

Every workplace is unique. Identifying the needs and preferences specific to your team can help ensure you’re implementing the right mental health actions for your business. Feedback can be gathered through surveys, one-on-ones, suggestion boxes – or you could even host a meeting with staff to encourage an open discussion of ideas!

Get expert advice

It’s important to note we aren’t the experts when it comes to mental health. These are just some simple tips our team has put together get you thinking about ways you can create a mentally healthy work environment. If you’re after expert advice, then please get in touch with a registered health professional. Or to start, we recommend you visit the Mental Health Foundation website – they have a range of fantastic resources and advice available.

Where to get help

1737, Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

What’s Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, midday–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm. Online chat is available 7pm–10pm daily.

Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age. Open 24/7.

thelowdown.co.nz – or email team@thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626

Anxiety New Zealand – 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389)

Rural Support Trust – 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)

Supporting Families in Mental Illness – 0800 732 825

Engineering and architecture specific wellbeing resources

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