Mental Health Awareness Week resources for teachers

Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week (23–29 September). The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand shares advice and resources teachers can use in their schools.

After plenty of feedback from teachers, Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) is being held in the school term this year. The theme is Explore your way to wellbeing – Whāia te ara hauora, Whitiora.

Run by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand since 1993 MHAW is an opportunity for schools and kura to help their tauira/students explore what experiences, actions, relationships and surroundings make them feel good and uplift their mental wellbeing.

It might be having a kōrero with someone who brightens their day, hiking up a maunga as a classroom, setting new goals, learning their pepeha or volunteering in rōpū/teams.

What is mental wellbeing?

Everyone has mental wellbeing – it’s something for us all to treasure and look after. The World Health Organisation defines mental wellbeing as “a state in which every individual realizes their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community”.

MHAW is an important reminder that sometimes your mental health and wellbeing might not feel as good as you’d like, and that’s okay. Everyone goes through hard times – that’s a completely normal part of being human.

Most people who experience mental distress will have their first experience before the age of 25. Schools and kura have a key role in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of tamariki and tauira through building positive and safe environments, teaching skills for wellbeing and ensuring those who are going through distress are included and not judged.

MHAW underpinned by Te Whare Tapa Whā

MHAW is inspired by Te Whare Tapa Whā, a Māori perspective on wellbeing developed by leading Māori health advocate and researcher Sir Mason Durie. Te Whare Tapa Whā helps to identify where we need extra support.

The model describes health as a ‘wharenui’ or meeting house with four walls. These walls represent: wairua/spiritual wellbeing, hinengaro/mental and emotional wellbeing, tinana/physical wellbeing and whānau/ family and social wellbeing. Connection with the whenua/land forms the foundation.

Across this week, we’ll help New Zealand schools and kura explore each part of the wharenui and give practical ideas for how they can strengthen the wellbeing of their tauira and tamariki and create a school environment where it’s safe to talk about mental health.
How to get your school/kura involved

Explore your way to wellbeing - school resources

  • Start by downloading our school explore guide with activity ideas to run each day which align with Te Whare Tapa Whā. 
  • There are 23 MHAW classroom activities created by Sparklers, which all have wellbeing themes.
  • There is a MHAW mindful colouring activity. Mindful colouring can help to lower stress and anxiety and increase focus. Perfect for the classroom or staffroom.
  • The MHAW school page has free downloadable resources including posters, a wellbeing plan template and more.
  •  There is the Good Reads – Youth and Children page, where books with wellbeing themes are reviewed by people in the sector. 

After exploring your way to wellbeing, you’ll have the opportunity to complete our wellbeing plan as a class once MHAW has finished. The plan will help you prioritise what worked best for you and your classroom.

Te Whare Tapa Whā (mhaw.nz) 

Explore your way to wellbeing – a guide for schools and kura (PDF) 

Mindful colouring (mhaw.nz) 

Downloadable resources for schools and Kura (mhaw.nz)

Good reads – children and youth (mhaw.nz) 

MHAW wellbeing plan 

Last modified on Monday, 23 September 2019 10:00