Making every week Mental Health Awareness Week in the Whanganui district


02 October 2018

Whanganui District Health Board (DHB) is supporting Mental Health Awareness Week 2018 by encouraging people to do something every week of the year to look after their mental wellbeing.

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme encourages people to ‘Let nature in, strengthen your wellbeing - Mā te taiao kia whakapakari tōu oranga’.

To embrace this year’s theme Infant, Child, Adolescent Mental Health and Addiction Service (ICAMHAS) staff are planning a team walk around Virginia Lake while also giving out seedlings (donated by the Whanganui Garden Centre) with positive affirmations attached for clients coming through the service during the week.

Whanganui DHB health promoter Sarah Hawken says getting in touch with nature is an ideal way for people to lift their spirits on a daily basis.

“WDHB is keen to see its community take time over the week to enhance mental health and wellbeing, and embrace the theme ‘Let nature in’. However, we also want to stress that you don’t have to wait until October each year to make mental wellbeing your priority. Every week should be a mental health awareness week.”

Miss Hawken says youth mental wellbeing is a particularly important area of focus in the Whanganui district.

“Last year’s Safer Whanganui Community Needs Assessment report pointed to adolescent mental health as a significant problem in Whanganui. Some people working on the frontline of mental health services noticed a large increase in the number of young people presenting with mental health problems. Additionally, youth were reporting mental health issues much younger than they were before,” Miss Hawken says.

“This shows how important it is to start promoting mental wellbeing early in children’s lives, so they can learn resilience. They can then apply these skills later in life.”

Over the past year, Whanganui DHB’s mental health services have been putting extra resources into working more closely with community-based health providers. This includes providing education and peer support for GPs, practice nurses and primary care workers who support people with mental health needs.

Additionally, new approaches to treatment are increasingly being used in Whanganui. These include working with a young person’s whānau and seeking to understand how social factors affect mental wellbeing.

If you need someone to talk to, free call or text 1737 24 hours a day. Doing so allows you to talk (or text with) a trained counsellor. For more information and activities for the Mental Health Awareness Week and every day of the year, visit