Christchurch mental health initiative better than “all right”

Seeing images of the extent of the devastation wrecked by the earthquakes on Christchurch was depressing. I couldn’t even imagine how life must be for the people who had to work and raise their families in such tough conditions. So it’s great to see bright splashes of colour with the positive message of caring and supporting each other dotted around town.

About 500 brightly coloured posters reassure it’s “all right” for people to experience a range of emotions in the post-quakes city and encourages people to reach out to support each other.

“All right” is an excellent and well-timed mental health and well-being project led by Healthy Christchurch, and backed by the Mental Health Foundation and Canterbury District Health Board.

This is the right campaign at the right time for Christchurch. It’s about normalising and acknowledging mental health. It acknowledges what Cantabrians have been through, and are still going through, and promotes the value of checking-in on our mental health and well-being.

Our Green policy on health care sets out the importance of providing support at the earliest stage possible, and this is so important with mental health too.

Our policy takes a holistic approach to understanding mental health and illness. There are a wide range of psychological, social, environmental, and physiological factors that can affect mental health. The degree of social support, financial security, reasonable working conditions, safe and healthy housing, supportive schools and access to appropriate health care can all affect our mental health and how we cope if we become mentally ill. (click here to read more on green health policy)

Research conducted to inform the “all right” campaign demonstrates the wide range of factors weighing on the minds of Cantabrians. Many are still struggling from the “double blow” of the earthquakes, but also the increased stress and anxiety of slow on-going insurance battles.  Many respondents mentioned grief for the ‘lost Christchurch’, a third are suffering financial problems as a result of the earthquakes, and fatigue was extremely common.

I know the rest of New Zealand hasn’t necessarily gone through the same experiences, but there are definite well-being tips to reflect on as we head into the winter months. Some of the positive findings include how humour, staying active, eating healthy foods, and appreciating the small things in life really help.  Also highlighted were people feeling proud of their family’s increased resilience, their communities feeling stronger, and their renewed appreciation of life.  What a great silver lining.

So this campaign has a really simple message, but it couldn’t be more pertinent, now is a really good time for everyone to check in with themselves, with friends and whānau, “are you all right?”

Some websites that might help