Mental Health Awareness Week

13 Sep 2023 | Articles

Five Days, Five Ways

The week of 18 – 24 September recognises Mental Health Awareness (MHAW). Run annually in NZ by the Mental Health Foundation since 1993 (and marked in over 150 countries at various times of the year), MHAW focuses on a different theme each year. This years’ theme is Five Ways, Five Days providing tools to boost our mental health and wellbeing each week day (see below).

Studies have shown that volunteering provides many benefits not just to the organisation or community a person volunteers for, but also for the volunteer. Beyond the usual benefits, such as, skill development or networking, giving back or contributing to something you see as greater than yourself has actual physical benefits to our mental well-being. Studies have shown that volunteering "activates the reward centre in our brain and releases serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, which is why many people often feel better after volunteering"1.

A study in the Journal of Happiness Studies (2020) of approximately 70,000 people found that people “who volunteered in the past year, as opposed to those who didn’t, reported greater life satisfaction and better overall health. On top of that, volunteering more frequently (at least once a month) was related to better mental health than those who volunteered less frequently.”2 Volunteering builds friendships, reduces anxiety and enables you to contribute positively to the world3.

Take Notice | Me Aro Tonu – Monday
Being ‘mindful’ or attentive and aware of what’s happening in the present moment.
Give | Tukua – Tuesday
Actions based on kindness or generosity e.g. volunteering boost self-esteem ad self-value.
Be Active | Me Kori Tonu – Wednesday
Boosts your mood, health and enhances thinking and learning.
Connect | Me Whakawhanaunga – Thursday
Being connected increasing feelings of belonging and happiness.
Keep Learning | Me Ako Tonu – Friday
Mentally challenging our minds exercises the brain and improves our ability to think.

Mā te whakarongo, ka mōhio
through listening, comes knowledge
Mā te mōhio, ka mārama,
through knowledge, comes understanding
Mā te mārama, ka matau,
through understanding, comes wisdom
Mā te matau, ka ora
through wisdom, comes wellbeing
There are many resources available to encourage well-being on www.mentalhealth.org.nz and some free mental health activities available during MHAW too including Tai chi, yoga, coaching and informative talks.
What’s on around NZ | Mental Health Awareness Week. 18 - 24 SEPTEMBER 2023 https://mhaw.nz/

  1. https://www.naceweb.org/career-development/best-practices/volunteering-can-provide-a-boosttoyourmentalhealth/#:~:text=D.%2C%20psychologist%20for%20the%20Cleveland,often%20feel%20better%20after%20volunteering.--
  2. https://anxiety.org.nz/resources/the-mental-health-benefits-of-volunteering
  3. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-the-mental-health-benefits-of-volunteering-5248549

Volunteer Stories

Engaging children with reading

I was looking for something interesting and rewarding to do with my time during a gap between paid jobs.