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Making mental health a priority during Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental health & addiction quality improvement
11 October 2019

The Health Quality & Safety Commission’s mental health and addiction (MHA) quality improvement programme team organised several activities to acknowledge and celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 (23–29 September).

In Auckland, the team collaborated with Ministry of Health colleagues on a range of activities. They were a great opportunity to explore the experiences, actions, relationships and surroundings that uplift mental wellbeing and enhance the enjoyment of work.

This year’s theme was based on Sir Mason Durie’s Te Whare Tapa Whā. Questions related to the four domains of Te Whare Tapa Whā were posted in the staff room each day for everyone to contribute their ideas using colourful sticky notes.

A sensory activity to align with one of the five ways to wellbeing, ‘take notice’ was facilitated. The five ways to wellbeing are five strategies that have been proven to increase personal wellbeing. The idea was to take notice and be curious of the world around you and what you are feeling.

A tea tasting session, allowed staff to pause and take notice of the different taste, smell and colour of the teas to guess the right flavour. It was an experience designed for people to focus on their sense of sight, smell and taste. A round of ‘guess the sounds’ game was also included.

A session of mindfulness colouring took place. Mindfulness colouring has the potential to reduce levels of stress and anxiety as it allows the brain to experience relief by entering a meditative and relaxed state. This experience was enhanced by dimming the lights in the room, playing calming music and spraying a few drops of aromatic essential oils around the room. Pictures of mandalas, wildlife and Māori art were beautifully coloured and displayed around the office.

In our Wellington office, an all-staff presentation raised awareness about the week and the five ways to wellbeing. Then an activity was carried out where each member of staff gave a compliment to a colleague.

A learning zone was organised where participants learned from books, journals and each other. Additionally, a yoga session was held for staff led by a member of the MHA team, and a guided walk to the Wellington Waterfront to connect with nature.

To finish, a shared morning tea was organised in Auckland. Staff had the opportunity to connect with one another and share their thoughts on the activities which took place throughout the week. Wellington staff were encouraged to connect with each other over coffee.

It was truly an important week to acknowledge our overall wellbeing, because when you uplift your wellbeing, you uplift the wellbeing of your workplace, whānau, communities and Aotearoa New Zealand as a whole.

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