Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) will begin this Monday, September 21 and will reflect the challenges Kiwis have faced together in 2020.

This year’s theme, Reimagine Wellbeing Together – He Tirohanga Anamata, encourages New Zealanders to reflect on the big and small actions they’ve taken to take care of each other this year, and to look at wellbeing through a new lens.

“We want New Zealanders to reimagine what wellbeing looks and feels like, and believe that wellbeing is possible for everyone,” said MHF chief executive Shaun Robinson.

Robinson acknowledged that the Alert Level change announcement due next week may bring up feelings of unease, but said he’s proud of how New Zealanders have rallied together and tackled the challenges of shifting through different levels.

“Our new normal is quite different. The way we work, go to school and kura, and connect with friends and whānau have all changed this year – so if you’re feeling off balance right now, know that it’s completely normal to feel that way,” noted Robinson. 

“Mental Health Awareness Week is a timely reminder of how important it is to embrace the simple things we can do each day to really help strengthen our wellbeing – that’s what will help us during the tough times.”

“I’m particularly pleased to hear so many schools and kura are taking part this year as we know it’s been a particularly hard time for our young people, with disruptions and concerns about what will be waiting for them when they leave school or tertiary education,” agreed Robyn Shearer, Deputy-Director General, Mental Health and Addiction at the Ministry of Health.

“It’s been a very unusual year. It’s more important than ever to remind ourselves and each other that there are things we can do every day to look after our mental wellbeing. And taking care of each other and being kind is up there at the top of the list.”

Across Aotearoa, almost 10,000 workplaces, communities, whānau, schools and kura will be celebrating the taonga/treasure that is our mental health. Each day of MHAW has a theme inspired by Te Whare Tapa Whā, a model developed by Māori health advocate and MHF patron Sir Mason Durie.

“Te Whare Tapa Whā helps us to find ways to look after our taha wairua (spiritual health), taha tinana (physical health), taha hinengaro (emotional and mental health), taha whānau (family and friends). When all these things are in balance, including the whenua (foundations) we thrive. When one or more of these is out of balance, our wellbeing is impacted,” said Thomas Strickland, Kaiwhakarite Māori Development Specialist, MHF.

The daily MHAW themes are:

  • Monday 21 September: Whānau: Recharge with others / Whiria te muka tangata
  • Tuesday 22 September: Wairua: Rediscover everyday wonder / Whāia ngā mīharotanga o ia rā
  • Wednesday 23 September: Whenua: Return to nature / Hono ki te taiao
  • Thursday 24 September: Tinana: Refuel your body / Whakamarohi tō tinana
  • Friday 25 September: Hinengaro: Refresh your mind / Whāngaia tō hinengaro

These themes will be used as part of the popular wellbeing photo challenge which runs from 21-25 September. New Zealanders are encouraged to take photos related to the theme to show what wellbeing looks like to them. 

Visit for ideas on how you can get involved in the week at your workplace, school or kura, whānau or community.