Luckily, due to an initiative called “Good Yarn”, the nationwide company has already started to make steps to become more adept at learning how to talk about mental health and how to notice if a colleague, friend or family member is having a difficult time.
For Lisa Fawcett, Senior Leadership & Culture Consultant at NZ Post in Christchurch, promoting the idea of maintaining mental health, in the same way that we do physical health, has always been important.
“Everyone with a body has physical health and everybody with a brain has mental health,” she says. “We’re really good in New Zealand at talking about our sprained ankles or our back injuries… but we’re not great at saying ‘I’m a bit down, I’m a bit depressed, I’m a bit anxious’. It’s really important to me that we increase awareness and decrease the stigma.”
After living in the Waikato for 14 years, Lisa moved to Christchurch 18 months ago and was immediately impressed at how readily the locals were able to talk about their mental health.
“I observed a level of emotional awareness in the leaders and in the people that I hadn’t seen in my career,” she says, citing one of the team leaders who, the day after the March 15 mosque attacks, spoke in front of a leadership meeting and openly stated that she was struggling. “The earthquakes have taught the people here to talk about their emotional state,” Lisa says. “To name it, own it and be okay with sharing a bit of vulnerability.”
One of the tools available through Getting Through Together were new posters, specific to the Covid-19 journey New Zealand was on. The messages were simple and powerful reminders to be kind, look after yourself and take it one day at a time.
As someone who knew the impact such posters can have, Lisa reached out to the Getting Through Together team and was supplied with gentle, caring posters for their postal delivery sites and processing centres.
“When the posters become part of the wallpaper and people are seeing them all the time, they become part of your frame of reference,” she says. “It’s become part of our language and the key message that came out of our Prime Minister’s mouth and then out of many other people’s mouth: be kind. Just be kind.”
Such reminders were required during noho rāhui / lockdown, particularly for those from NZ Post who were on the ground, and who became a lifeline for many – delivering essential items like groceries, winter clothing and heating equipment to families who were suddenly stranded at home.
“Everybody on the news was saying ‘stay home’ and all of our people were being told, ‘no, leave your bubble! You have to – you’re essential,’ so that initial period was tough for everybody, particularly for those people who needed to be brave and leave home during a period of such uncertainty,” Lisa says.
Many of NZ Post’s operational sites still have the posters on display; as the Christchurch community knows all too well, it can be a long path after tough times to feeling okay again.
“I’m looking forward to seeing where the posters end up,” Lisa says. “People will flick through them, they’ll find one they like, and it’ll go on a noticeboard, or into a space that says ‘thanks for being kind,’ or ‘it’s okay to just be ticking along’. Because they’re really good messages for everybody – all the time.”
Order your own set of our latest Getting Through Together posters for your workplace, home or school by clicking here.