Media Statement: Mental Health Key Focus For IHAD

Whangārei charity I Have a Dream (IHAD) is backing the kaupapa of Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW), agreeing such efforts need to continue year round in Te Tai Tokerau and the rest of the country.

IHAD CEO Chris Twiss believes it is critical to consistently, genuinely and openly connect and reconnect with people we care about and who may need support – especially amidst lockdowns.

He points to the efforts of IHAD Navigators Joe, Vince and Daisy, who in recent days have held their ‘Truth Talks’ after school programme with IHAD Dreamers (students). The Navigators say the IHAD Dreamers embraced the whanaungatanga session which included drawing a lifetree that looked into a number of factors in our lives.

“These included questions around what keeps you grounded (roots), what do you value in life (trunk), what you are hopeful for, (branches), and who are those most dearest to you (leaves) That’s really positive,” says Chris.

“At IHAD we’re all about connection. As Navigators, we connect with our kaiako on a daily basis,” says Year 12/13 Navigator Joe.

“School-based Navigators connect work with whānau before and after kura each day. Navigators also connect with volunteers attending after school programmes. Then there are our IHAD Mentors and funders who firmly believe that genuinely supporting and guiding our young is the essence of IHAD.

Chris says while IHAD is well established in Whangārei and is continuing to strengthen, in years to come, he sees it extending throughout Northland.

“The very essence of what our people, funders, supporters, mentors and volunteers are trying to achieve within the socio and economic breadth of Northland is the perfect fit for IHAD’s mission,” says Chris.

“We know that significant positive life change and growth is possible through this programme. We see it daily and it is only strengthening as we gain more and more experience in our communities.

“Our work is about investing in the future of Kiwi kids and we are not going to stop in our efforts to create opportunities for our future leaders.”

The 2021 MHAW theme is take time to kōrero/mā te kōrero, ka ora – a little chat can go a long way.

The Mental Health Foundation says it chose this theme because the little, everyday conversations we have are surprisingly important – and they make a big difference to our mental health.

IHAD’s Whangārei whānau and supporters will continue to endorse these efforts, says Chris.


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