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Mental Health Awareness Week

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Health professionals at the Southern District Health Board and partner organisations throughout the Southern district are focusing on supporting and amplifying the ‘Getting Through Together’ messages and promoting the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 21-27 September.

Health Promotion Advisor, David Pirie says the impact of COVID-19 has raised issues of mental health and wellbeing throughout our Southern communities and New Zealand, as people face uncertainty and unexpected stress. 

“The focus of Mental Health Awareness Week this year is Reimagine Wellbeing Together – He Tirohanga Anamata.  The aim is to reassure people they are not alone, help is there for them, and that there is free help and support available. This year hasn’t been easy, so taking the opportunity to recharge and reimagine what wellbeing looks like is vital. It’s a great chance to build on the things we’ve been doing to look after ourselves and to support each other to get through, together.

 “The Getting Through Together campaign is about reminding ourselves that there are simple things we can all do to look after ourselves and others. Be kind to one another, stick to routines if you can, do more of the things that give your life value and meaning, like connecting with nature, being creative, listening to music or getting lost in a good book. Calm your body and mind, focus on your breathing and give yourself downtime. We all need downtime.

 “We are also offering podcasts, seminars and workshops to equip people with skills and strategies to help them cope, adapt and thrive after the disruption the COVID-19 pandemic has caused in their lives,” he says.

Mental Health Awareness Week is also a chance to acknowledge the hard work of those working in the mental health sector during this challenging time.

In the Central-Lakes area, the impacts of COVID-19 have seen growing demand for mental health support, but also services responding well, and new workforces being implemented. These include social workers in schools, and new mental health support roles known as “health improvement practitioners” introduced into general practices.

Adell Cox - Southern DHB’s Director for Allied Health, Mental Health and Addictions, and chair of the Central-Lakes Wellbeing Recovery Group - says the way in which all sectors of the community have joined together to support those in need has been outstanding.

“Our message is, if you need help, please reach out. You are not alone and there are services there to support you.”  

Mental Health Awareness activities you might see around the district

  • Southern DHB, together with Otago Mental Health Support Trust, MSD and Weave Together have sponsored a series of podcasts entitled Living Well, in which local people share their ideas about practical everyday things people can do to support their wellbeing and build connections with others, which align with the Five Ways to Wellbeing messages.
  • Look out for ‘Getting through Together Champions’ in Dunedin, Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago.  The Champions are volunteers who will be reaching businesses and other organisations asking them to help support and promote the Getting Through Together initiative.
  • In Invercargill during Mental Health Awareness Week, Southern DHB Consultant Clinical Psychologist Henck van Bilsen will give two free public talks on ‘How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World’. The talks, the first of which are timed to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week 21-27 September, will be offered at several locations around the Southern region during September and October.

 Audience numbers for each session will be limited to 100 people, in-line with Level 2 guidelines, so registration is essential.

Public sessions are scheduled for the following locations and times:

  • Invercargill, Tuesday, 22 September 2020, 6th floor Kelvin Hotel, two sessions: 2-4pm and again at 6.30-8.30pm.
  • Queenstown, Wednesday 21 October, Queenstown Events Centre, two sessions: 2-4pm and again at 6.30-8.30pm.
  • Te Anau, Friday, 16 October, Te Anau Club, Full day workshop 9.30am-4pm.

To reserve your place call or e-mail Ann Kingsbury on 03 214 5689 ext. 48078 and indicate if you are joining the afternoon or evening lecture.

Information on the locations, times and venues will be further updated on the Southern Health website