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Mental Health Awareness Week: Connecting with nature can help Kiwis create positive wellbeing

Mental Health Awareness Week runs this week, October 8 to 14.

If you're feeling low, overwhelmed with emotions or continually worried that the worst will happen, Mental Health Foundation figures show you're not alone.

Spending time in nature is proven to make us happier says The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand. Source: 1 NEWS

Each year one in five Kiwis is diagnosed with a common mental illness or addiction.

The Ministry of Health's 2016/17 figures reveal that more people are experiencing mood disorders, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders than a decade ago.

Last year 668 Kiwis took their own lives, our highest annual figure since counting began, and nearly double the 2017 road toll of 378. 

As Mental Health Awareness Week kicks off today, support group Lifeline offered advice on the best way you can help someone suffering with mental distress.

"They could be feeling isolated or lonely," Lifeline clinical manager Renee Mathews said.

"Try starting a conversation by sharing what you've noticed, then listen, stay calm, and interested in their safety. 

"Resist judging, interrupting or giving advice. Just listen and ask them to keep going.

"They’ll get through this with support."

This week the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) is encouraging Kiwis to 'Let Nature in, strengthen your wellbeing' as they mark Mental Health Awareness Week from October 8 to 14.

They say connecting with nature is a proven way to support your mental health.

After 2017's Mental Health Awareness Week, 95 per cent of Kiwis surveyed said spending time in nature made them feel good. 

"We know connecting with nature makes us feel good, and every little bit helps us find balance, build resilience and boost mental wellbeing," MHF chief executive Shaun Robinson says.

"We never know what life challenges lie around the corner, but if we invest in our mental health we are much better equipped to handle tough times and can prevent mental health issues."

Where can I get support and help?

Need to talk? 1737 – Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor

Lifeline – 0800 543 354

Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234; email talk@youthline.co.nz 

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

Healthline - 0800 611 116

Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 or free text 4202 or www.depression.org.nz 

The Lowdown: A website to help young New Zealanders recognise and understand depression or anxiety - www.thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626 

SPARX.org.nz & Online e-therapy tool provided by the University of Auckland that helps young people learn skills to deal with feeling down, depressed or stressed

OUTLine NZ – 0800 688 5463 for support related to sexual orientation or gender identity

- Reporting by 1 NEWS' Jane Horrell