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Happiness central to mental health.

The elusive concept of happiness is central to the theme for next month's Mental Health Awareness Week. The week, co-ordinated by the Mental Health Foundation, runs from October 9-15. The week's full theme is "Happiness: Accept Belong Connect Ko te whanaungatanga te maioha". The foundation's southern regional manager Nikki Woolley said the foundation provided resources for the week. This year these include posters, postcards (see illustration at right) and balloons, all featuring the theme.

"The idea of happiness and wellbeing is an easy way people can latch on to what mental health is about," she said.

Explaining the theme further, Woolley said the foundation believed happiness could occur in an environment where people accepted each other, "where we accept diversity and have an inclusive society. This ties in well with the key messages of the Like Minds Like Mine campaign". To belong or to become part of a community, family, whanau or group of friends helped people feel valued. To connect with others included communicating, asking for and offering help, being a good friend and taking part in community groups and activities.

The phrase Ko te whanaungatanga te maioha was given as part of the theme by the Mental Health Foundation's cultural adviser Rawiria Wharemate. Woolley said it incorporated the great delight in feelings of strong whanau connections and connections with friends and the moments of great happiness experienced within those contexts.

The week will incorporate World Mental Health Day on October 10, promoted by the World Federation for Mental Health (see story on p19). The theme of that day is Building Awareness--Reducing Risk: Mental Illness and Suicide. Woolley said the federation had accepted New Zealand's "strengths-based" perspective. "We want to move away from an illness focus and focus on what people can do. The concepts of acceptance, belonging and connecting and those incorporated in the Maori part of the theme all enhance wellbeing and are protective factors against suicide," Woolley said.

A range of activities throughout the country has been organised to mark the week and include a movie night, a church service, entertainment and speeches in Christchurch, a day of self-care workshops in Auckland, a garden walk in Hamilton, a sports day in Kaitaia and a talk on common themes of mental illness at the Whangarei District Library.

For further information on the week and associated activities contact the foundation's website:
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Title Annotation:NEWS AND EVENTS
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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