Take time to kōrero

Issue: Volume 100, Number 12

Posted: 23 September 2021
Reference #: 1HAPnU

It’s important to prioritise our mental health, especially as we continue to grapple with the effects of Covid-19. The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (27 September – 3 October) is Take time to kōrero; mā te korero, ka ora – a little chat can go a long way. It’s a theme that teachers can explore with their colleagues, students and whānau through a range of resources.

Everyday conversations can make a positive difference. Photo: Featherston School student Krystal and teacher Dallas Powell.

Everyday conversations can make a positive difference. Photo: Featherston School student Krystal and teacher Dallas Powell.

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is all about connecting with the people in our lives and creating space for conversations about mental health and hauora. As educators, it’s important to look after your own mental health and hauora, and check in with your colleagues often. It is also a great opportunity to spotlight mental health education as part of Health Education, and across the curriculum.

Mental Health Foundation (MHF) chief executive Shaun Robinson says it’s the little everyday conversations that can make a positive difference to our mental health.

“Over time, these small chats create meaningful connections, help us understand each other better and ensure we have people we can count on when times are tough,” says Shaun.

Central to this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is Te Whare Tapa Whā, a Māori model of wellbeing, and the Five Ways to Wellbeing, strategies proven to boost wellbeing. Many teachers and kaiako have used these to explore conversations around mental health and wellbeing with their students and whānau.

Te Whare Tapa Whā, developed by Sir Mason Durie, presents hauora as a wharenui with four walls representing taha wairua/spiritual wellbeing, taha hinengaro/mental and emotional wellbeing, taha tinana/physical wellbeing and taha whānau/family and social wellbeing.

Our connection with the whenua/land forms the foundation. This model underpins the Health and Physical Education learning area of The New Zealand Curriculum, and is an effective framework for mental health education.

With hauora as a foundation, mental health education emphasises self-understanding, belonging, and connectedness that is grounded in culture, place, and histories. It enables ākonga to become strong in their identities and to become increasingly aware of what they need to support their mental wellbeing.

It equips them with skills and strategies to meet challenges and adapt to change. They learn how to take action to look after their own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others around them.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing are Connect/Me whakawhanaunga, Keep learning/Me ako tonu, Take notice/Me aro tonu, Be active/Me kori tonu, and Give/Tukua.

Te Whare Tapa Whā

Creating safe spaces for kōrero

For Josie Brown, a kapa haka and music teacher in Tauranga, the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 ‘take time to kōrero – ma te kōrero, ka ora’ resonates both on a personal and professional level. Working with rangatahi and tamariki Māori across different kura, Josie has seen first-hand the importance of kapa haka and waiata as a way of creating safe spaces for kōrero.

Josie was inspired to work in this space back when her son returned from school one day having been taught the wrong way to pronounce ‘tēnā koe’. She decided to offer her services for free, and her mahi has taken off from there.

Working in different schools, Josie has had to adapt to the different wellbeing needs and contrasting learning behaviours of ākonga, but one thing that’s common across all of her kura is how kapa haka and waiata brings young people together.

One of the most important components of kapa haka is not only its link to culture and Māori identity, but how it encourages whanaungatanga, the value of people and connectedness. 

It’s no secret the power that kapa haka has on wellbeing, and providing a positive environment for rangatahi, says Josie.

“Kapa haka is more than singing. It’s about expression too, so for our tamariki to learn how to express their emotions is a great thing.”

Read more of Josie’s story on the Mental Health Awareness Week website, under ‘Wellbeing Stories(external link)’.

Need support? There are a number of helplines that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Go to mentalhealth.org.nz/helplines(external link).

Featherston School students Annora and Stella.

Featherston School students Annora and Stella.

Resources and support

Mental Health Foundation

There are a number of resources useful to teachers and kaiako during Mental Health Awareness Week and throughout the year. Access these and more at mentalhealth.org.nz/education(external link)

Comprehensive teaching resource

Mental Health Education and Hauora: Teaching interpersonal skills, resilience and wellbeing gives ideas and activities for mental health education in Years 7 to 11. It was distributed to all schools with students in Year 7 and up in 2020, and can be found online at healtheducation.org.nz(external link).

Video Series: Wellbeing and Hauora

This series explores wellbeing and hauora from the perspectives of an early learning centre, a kura Māori, and an intermediate school, looking at different ways wellbeing is incorporated into teaching and learning programmes, especially as we cope with the disruption of Covid-19. It also looks at the importance of teachers prioritising their own wellbeing.

Watch the series at youtube.com/edgazettenewzealand(external link).

Mental Health Education and Hauora: Teaching interpersonal skills, resilience, and wellbeing lead authors, Dr Katie Fitzpatrick and Kat Wells.

Mental Health Education and Hauora: Teaching interpersonal skills, resilience, and wellbeing lead authors, Dr Katie Fitzpatrick and Kat Wells.

Wellbeing services for the education workforce

On 24 August 2021, the Minister of Education Hon Chris Hipkins announced additional wellbeing services to support teachers and kaiako, regular relievers and support staff across all early learning services, schools, and kura.

EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) is a professional and confidential service provided by independent, highly qualified professionals.

It provides brief, solution-focused support, to help staff deal with any difficulties they may be experiencing and to minimise their impact. Discussions will be informal, friendly and focused on meeting needs.

“Our kaiako and teachers were vital in supporting our learners during Covid-19 and have stepped up again to assist them and their whānau in this latest resurgence in our community,” says Minister Hipkins.

“On behalf of all New Zealanders, I would like to express my gratitude to our education workforce for going beyond the call of duty to ensure our children and young people are supported while learning from home. I’m sure every New Zealander will join me when I say we need to look after their wellbeing at this difficult time as well.”

How can EAP Services help?

You can talk to an experienced professional about any number of concerns, for example (but not limited to):

  • feelings of anxiety, stress or depression
  • family challenges, relationship issues
  • parenting problems, elder care support
  • conflict and tension with colleagues, managers, partners
  • pressures placed on you in the workplace or personal situations
  • coping with serious illness, trauma, grief or bereavement
  • building resilience during times of change and uncertainty
  • preparing for retirement or redundancy
  • frustrations and confusion over your career direction
  • living with addictions and minimising their impact on your life
  • addressing financial matters or personal legal concerns.

EAP Services is completely independent of the Ministry and no identifying information about you will be released without your written consent. Confidentiality is assured.

The support will be culturally responsive in line with Kaupapa Māori /Te Ao Māori. Members of family and whānau are welcome to join and participate in counselling sessions.

How do I access EAP Services?

All teachers and support staff can access up to three confidential counselling sessions, until 24 November 2021.

Appointments are available 7:30am–7:30pm, Monday to Friday. In addition, a number of EAP Services locations offer extended hours, including weekend support.

For times when individual circumstances require an immediate response, a telephone service operates providing 24-hour, seven-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year support.

To arrange a confidential telephone, in-person, video or e-counselling appointment, give EAP a call on 0800 327 669 or book online: eapservices.co.nz/request-an-appointment/(external link).

Employee Assistance Programme 

Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI)  

TKI has a range of curriculum resources to support the teaching of mental health education(external link) in line with the New Zealand Curriculum

The New Zealand Health Education Association (NZHEA) 

NZHEA is the national teaching association for health education. It produces a wide range of teaching resources, support, professional learning and development, and advocacy for health education, including mental health education (from year 1 through to NCEA programmes).

Key resources include: 

Te Hiringa Hauora Health Promotion Agency (HPA) 

HPA(external link) leads and supports health promotion initiatives to: 

The Mental Health Foundation 

The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand(external link) is a charity that works towards creating a society free from discrimination, where all people enjoy positive mental health and wellbeing. It works to influence individuals, whānau, organisations, and communities to improve and sustain their mental health and reach their full potential. 

The Sir John Kirwan Foundation(external link) (Mitey) 

The foundation supports schools to provide young people with the skills and knowledge to recognise and respond to mental health issues both in themselves and others. Designed for New Zealand children, Mitey(external link) is an evidence-based approach to mental health education for years 1–8. Mitey provides classroom resources alongside resources to support a whole-school approach. 

Le Va(external link) 

An organisation to support Pasifika families and communities to unleash their full potential and have the best possible health and wellbeing outcomes. 

Some resources: 

New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience (NZIWR) 

NZIWR(external link) is dedicated to increasing wellbeing and resilience in individuals, communities, and organisations. 

‘Making the Case for Wellbeing’ is a short, accessible three-part course exploring what wellbeing in education is and why there is such a pressing need for it today, and giving examples of how wellbeing is being promoted and protected in a range of different schools. 

‘Bite Size Learning’ is designed for wellbeing lead teachers to run short professional learning sessions with staff. 

'The Educators’ Guide to Whole-school Wellbeing' is a practical guide to getting started, best practice process, and effective implementation, written by Dr Denise Quinlan and Dr Lucy Hone.  

New Zealand Drug Foundation (NZDF) 

NZDF(external link) educates, advises, and stands up for healthy approaches to alcohol and other drugs. They have been at the forefront of major alcohol and other drug policy debates for almost 30 years, advocating for policies and practices based on the best evidence available. NZDF recognises that drugs, legal and illegal, are a part of everyday life experience, so NZDF is safety focused and takes a harm reduction approach in all their work.  

Te Rito Toi 

Te Rito Toi(external link) helps teachers work with children when they first return to school following major traumatic or life-changing events. The website includes lesson plans. 

Other useful resources and websites 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 9:25 am, 23 September 2021

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