New Zealand Postcards: The Allrighties

DSC01176This morning we had a presentation on the All Right? population-based mental wellbeing campaign, a Healthy Christchurch project led by the Mental Health Foundation and the Canterbury District Health Board. Sue Turner, the All Right? Campaign Manager and her colleague Lucy D’Aeth gave our class an overview of the campaign, including their community-engagement strategies.
I mentioned the All Right? campaign in my previous blog post Disaster Tourism; All Right? (Jan 19, 2014). Their creative and engaging posters had been one of the bright spots in the midst of our (unplanned) tour of Christchurch’s Red Zone area a few weeks ago. I wanted to know more about their work, so I invited them to speak to us today. They are hoping to present on their innovative mental wellbeing social marketing campaign this coming November in New Orleans at the annual meeting of the American Association of Public Health.

It seems that theirs is the first population-based mental health and wellbeing campaign post-disaster anywhere in the world (they invite anyone who knows of another one to contact them so they can compare notes). They gave us a lot of information to process, so I’ll just mention some of the things that stood out for me.

  • Raising emotional literacy on a population level is important baseline work before any big ‘calls to action’ are implemented.
  • Pre-existing inequities in a community can be made worse by a disaster (as was highlighted in the U.S. in New Orleans post-Katrina); they are trying to pay attention to that here in Christchurch.
  • More targeted social marketing for mental well-being are being developed for ‘hard-to-reach’ groups, such as the Maori and men (‘blokes’ in the Kiwi vernacular–a poster geared towards men is included in this post. Don’t you just love ‘mate date’?) They are also currently targeting more efforts on mental wellbeing for children affected by the quakes.
  • People cannot truly start to process the trauma until they are in a safe, stable place, and many people in Christchurch are still displaced, awaiting repairs (or relocation) on their homes.
  • In surveys done in 2012, they found that 61% of Christchurch respondents did not use any relaxation techniques–but that they were interested in learning them.
  • The Giggles: (Hannah Airey, director) offers community groups and trainings in a laughter yoga technique. The ‘laughter therapy’ groups have become quite popular. Laughter is infectious. Check out the germ theory by watching this terrific short documentary on Christchurch area laughter yoga/therapy.
  • Their non-academic (yet based on extensive research/developed by the UK-based think tank The New Economics Foundation) framework for their campaign is five main categories or ingredients for well-being. These categories are: 1) be active, 2) connect, 3) give, 4) take notice (slow down/savor the moment), and 5) keep learning (enjoying a fresh challenge can boost confidence).

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