2020 has certainly been a stressful year, and many of us may have felt our mental health being challenged more than usual. In this video we chat with Amanda and Zoe from the Mental Health Foundation to find out what mental health is and how we can support it in times of stress. 

A massive thank you to Amanda and Zoe for this reassuring and educational korero!

What is mental health?

The World Health Organisation (2014) defines mental health as:

“A state of wellbeing in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

In the video Amanda built on this definition by adding her take on mental wellbeing:

“It is more than the absence of mental illness and it is more than feeling happy.

It is the ability to cope with the day-to-day stresses of life, work productively, interact positively with others and realise our own potential”.

We had a useful korero around the differences between mental wellbeing and mental illness. The graph below shows the differences between the two. You could have mental illness symptoms but it could be well managed and you may enjoy high mental wellbeing. Alternatively, even if you do not have a mental illness you may have low mental wellbeing. This is an important distinction, as many of us may have found ourselves with lower mental wellbeing than usual during the COVID-19 lockdown, regardless of mental illness status.


Te Whare Tapa Whā

Zoe introduced the model of Te Whare Tapa Whā, created by Mason Durie. This is a model for understanding Māori health. Each concept shown below creates four equal walls and a strong foundation which hold up mental health. Each of these dimensions are important, and if one is damaged or lacking a person (or collective) may become ‘unbalanced’. 


The Five Ways to Wellbeing

The Mental Health Foundation has created The Five Ways to Wellbeing as a simple model to help us build healthy actions into our daily life. They are designed to be achievable goals that can be incorporated into daily life to help mental wellbeing flourish.


Useful links 

Mental Health Foundation website

Order resources from the Mental Health Foundation (they have great resources for free!).

Get help if you are in crisis


*** Disclaimer: Please note the views represented in this video are not necessarily representative of the views of Women’s Health Action staff, board or of our funders ***


All images used were provided by the Mental Health Foundation.