Kiwis invited to kōrero for Mental Health Awareness Week


For Mental Health Foundation CEO Shaun Robinson, this year’s theme “kōrero,” or connecting with others, has special resonance for Mental Health Awareness Week.

Robinson was visiting his three teenagers in Hawkes Bay, where they live with their mother, when Auckland entered level four lockdown on August 17.

He admits being separated from his partner and colleagues in Auckland for an unknown amount of time has been a challenge.

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“I haven’t spoken to my partner for a week, she’s locked in a different bubble than mine.”

Robinson says the connection is “fundamentally behind a kōrero” (conversation) and is critical to our sanity and well-being, especially during the “incredibly difficult time” of the recent outbreak and the Delta lockdown.

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Chris Skelton / Stuff

Shaun Robinson is Executive Director of the Mental Health Foundation.

The foundation has set different challenges for each day of Mental Health Awareness Week, which begins Monday.

Monday’s challenge of having a kōrero with someone dear to you is designed to be mutually beneficial, Robinson said.

He encouraged people to work at bonding with others and recognized that it was not always easy.

“I’m locked in with my teenagers and it’s great, but it’s also painful sometimes and they really struggled at different times.”

When people were feeling down, it could be harder to find a connection, but it was important to persist, Robinson said.

“It happened to me, at times when I really struggled with my sanity, and I was kind of pushed back by people, it was too much for them, and it’s really hard, it’s really, really difficult. In the end, personally, I just kept going, you know.

I went through the list of everyone I knew until I came across people who were willing to listen to me and engage with me.

The connection could be small and brief but powerful to improve his outlook, Robinson said.

“Sometimes just walking past and seeing someone on my street and smiling and saying ‘hello’ I come back and think, ‘oh wow, I really needed that connection with another person’, although it wasn’t an in-depth conversation. “

Other challenges suggested by the foundation included connecting somewhere outside, an act of kindness, and reflecting on the Maori health model, Te Whare Tapa Whā.

Robinson said that the essence of Te Whare Tapa Whā is to strike a balance in addressing mental, physical, spiritual and whānau or social well-being.

“You cannot have health and wellness if you ignore an important part of your life. “

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