Giving more during Mental Health Awareness Week

Photo: Eve Marshall Lea

Wanaka Library is tying a bow around the 2018 Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) (October 8-14) campaign to help encourage locals to let nature into their week.

In support of New Zealand’s year-round commitment to recognising and supporting mental health, the library is emphasising this year’s MHAW theme of ‘Let Nature In’ by leaving wrapped books around the waterfront and local parks. People who take a break for fresh air or a walk may find the surprises along their paths this week. It is the Queenstown Lakes Central District (QLDC) Libraries staff’s way to provide up-to-date resources and information on a broad range of mental health issues facing the community.

“We all love a good read and time in the great outdoors so why not enjoy them together? We thought this initiative would be a great way to share some books that we’ve deleted from our collection (to make room for new ones) and pass them onto the community for free so they can still be enjoyed,” said QLDC librarian Eve Marshall-Lea. She encouraged book finders to share their photos on QLDC’s Instagram page.

Wanaka Library is also hosting a free mindful art sessions next Wednesday for both kids and adults.

This week, the country’s health minister, David Clark, encouraged New Zealanders to take the opportunity to connect with abundance of nature around them. “Every little bit helps us find balance, build resilience and boost mental wellbeing,” said Clark. “Mental health is a positive resource that needs to be looked after and maintained.”

The Mental Health Foundation adapted the “Five Ways to Wellbeing” for New Zealand; the key actions have been designed as an easy-to-follow plan and toolkit for everyone. The steps are known internationally as Connect, Give, Take notice, Keep learning and Be active.

Alexandra Hodge, who founded the Wanaka Mental Health Peer Support Group last February, told the Wanaka Sun that nature is an essential component to supporting mental wellbeing. “My hope is to start utilising the beautiful place we live in and organising some wilderness trips/nature outings with the money we raised at the [mental health awareness] fundraiser [last September]. These will be open to group members and anyone interested in the community who is struggling with mental health,” said Hodge.

The peer support group meets every Tuesday at 6pm to help offset the “limited affordable mental health care services in the area”.

Community Networks Wanaka, operated by Alpine Community Development Trust, is also involved in the mental wellbeing of its community and houses many counselling and mental health resources in the Upper Clutha area. More information can be found at


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