Te Pūkenga network gears up for mental health

September 21, 2022 | 3 min read

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Mental Health Awareness Week is running this year from 26 September to 2 October.  The Mental Health Foundation has observed this occasion every year since 1993, reminding all New Zealanders that mental health is a key component of overall wellbeing. 

Every year the event takes on a different theme, and this year’s – “Reconnect” - is inspired by the isolation imposed on many by the recent COVID-19 restrictions. The notion of ‘reconnection’ is designed to inspire all New Zealanders to re-discover “the people and places that lift them up.”  

Tania Winslade, DCE Learner Journey and Experience understands how vital a commitment to good mental health is – for learners and kaimahi.  "We’re committed to making sure that learners have all of the support and resources that they need to strengthen their mental health. If staff are empowered to optimise their own mental health, they will be in a strong position to help make that real difference for learners.” Te Pūkenga has recently adopted Te Pae Māhutonga, a holistic wellbeing framework developed by Tā Mason Durie. Te Pae Māhutonga acknowledges that learning and wellbeing go hand in hand and Te Pūkenga aims to create the most empowering and supportive learning and working environments as possible. 

Te Pūkenga subsidiaries are demonstrating their approach to ‘reconnection’ in a variety of ways, offering  learning  and inspiration for learners and kaimahi. As a few of the many examples from across the network, EIT is putting on a host of activities, hosting a financial workshop, fitness sessions, a range of face-to-face and online workshops including one especially for the rainbow community, second-hand stalls and raffles, flax-weaving sessions, and plenty of music and food. Ara is home to a ‘Feel Good’ fortnight, during which learners and staff can take part in quiz nights, fitness sessions, board games and the chance to bond with some therapy dogs. UCOL is also offering time with some therapy dogs, as well as inviting everyone to partake in some wellbeing practices inspired by Eastern traditions, including a Buddhist centre and yoga classes. Yoga classes and workshops will also be on offer at WITT.  

The Ministry of Education (MoE) and Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand (TWOHNZ) have partnered with Te Pūkenga to expand tertiary learners’ access to primary mental health and addiction services. This funding has enabled a number of new and expanded services to be implemented across Te Pūkenga network already since June 2021, with 1,860 learners (across more than 2000 sessions) already benefitting from the new initiatives.