Lock your staff out on World Mental Health Day

13 Sep, 2016

MEDIA RELEASE

Mark your calendars – Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) is 10-16 October 2016! 

This year, the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) is asking Kiwis to Connect with Nature for good mental health and wellbeing.

To get New Zealanders thinking about how easy it is to schedule in some quality time with nature, the MHF is holding a national MHAW Lockout on World Mental Health Day – Monday 10 October.

From 12–1pm, Kiwis will head outside and discover how happiness and wellbeing blooms when we start to connect with the nature that surrounds us every day.

“We’re holding the MHAW Lockout rain or shine,” MHF chief executive Shaun Robinson says. “At noon, turn off your computer, down your tools, shut up shop and head outside to explore the world around you. You don’t need to strap on your hiking boots or your skis – just go and explore the blue and green spaces you work and live around every day.

“It’s about making time to feel naturally happy – it’s easier than you might think!”

Spending time in nature great for your wellbeing

Nearly 50% of New Zealanders will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime, and depression is set to overcome heart diseases as the biggest global health burden by 2020.

“Kiwis are increasingly stressed, leading sedentary lifestyles, sleeping less, working more and have increasing levels of debt,” Mr Robinson says.

“But it’s not inevitable that we continue to live like this. There are simple things we can all do that will make a huge difference to the mental health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders.”

Research has shown that spending time in nature is great for mental and physical health.

Evidence proves it makes us happier, decreases feelings of depression and anxiety, improves concentration, buffers against stress, makes our lives meaningful and reduces health inequalities related to poverty.

“Connecting with nature doesn’t mean you have to make a daily trip to a national park or forest,” Mr Robinson says.

“Nature is the daisies growing through the cracks in the footpath, the trees on your walk to work, the sky outside your window – it’s everywhere, and we need to spend more time connecting with it.”

Workplace health and wellbeing matters

While many workplaces such as hospitals call centres will not be able to close down for an hour, other employers who think they simply can’t spare their staff for sixty minutes are practising false economy, Mr Robinson says.

“Busy, stressful workplaces can lead to reduced productivity, absenteeism and high turnover. The MHAW Lockout is a great way to plant the seed with your staff that their health and wellbeing matters,” Mr Robinson says.

“Spending quality time with nature will support your staff to feel happier and more productive.”

The MHAW website and Facebook page will have ideas for how to spend time in nature – even for those who, for any reason, can’t leave their home or workplace.

There will be a range of other events to celebrate MHAW throughout the country. 

For more information contact:

Sophia Graham
Communications & PR Specialist
09 623 4810 ext 811
021 740 454
sophia.graham@mentalhealth.org.nz