“Ara’s own little bit of All Right?”

News News & events

26 Sep 2019

How many times have you asked a fellow student, workmate or even whānau member how they are feeling today and how many answered just with ‘Good thanks’ or ‘I’m fine’?

Do we really know whether someone is feeling happy, sad, overwhelmed, excited or stressed?

For Mental Health Awareness Week, a group of Ara’s Bachelor of Applied Science students collaborated with Canterbury’s most prominent wellbeing initiative, the All Right? campaign, to get the message across that talking about emotions, when times are good, tough or in between, should be part of everyday life.

Zoe Perry, Tyler Goodall, Sally Brouard and Chloe Read worked together with the All Right? team to create a two-phase campaign which is going to be rolled out across Ara campuses starting this week.

(from left to right) Sally Brouard, Tyler Goodall, Chloe Read and Zoe Perry worked together with the team at All Right? on an Ara specific campaign. The posters they are holding up are part of phase one.

“For phase one we created colourful posters based on emotions suggested by our classmates and staff. The second phase is being published in a couple of weeks and those posters will have pictures of Ara staff and students on them, including a quote from the person,” explained Goodall.

The idea for the project originated after Ara’s Manager for Health and Wellbeing, Andy Hearn, held a guest lecture in the students’ Health Promotion class. He connected them with All Right? and assisted with behind the scenes work to get the Ara specific campaign up and running.

Read describes one of the aims of the campaign is to normalise feelings around campus and between students and staff.

“There is a bit of a divide between both parties and while students talk with each other about what’s going on, sometimes they don’t realise that staff can be dealing with the same emotions. Through the second phase of our campaign we wanted people to recognize others in the pictures and create a community feeling around it,” said Read.

While it was initially difficult for the group to find volunteers for the pictures on the posters, the team from All Right? jumped on board to help them without hesitation.

Ciaran Fox, Mental Health Promotion Strategist at All Right?, said they were interested to help develop an Ara specific campaign from the start and lend the students their expertise.

“It is a bespoke campaign and we were fortunate enough to have some resource to support it in design and production. It worked out really well and I love that this is Ara’s own little bit of All right? they created.”

“The idea behind promoting mental health is to get useful messages out where people live, work and play. We talk about mental wellbeing as something we all can become experts in. Seeing those messages across campus and profiling students and staff talking about emotions is part of normalising and helping people to explore their own wellbeing.

“This campaign is all about making it normal and part of everyday life. It is brilliant to have Ara come on board and have the students drive it makes it even better. It is great value for them as well and it also means it’s authentic,” said Fox.

The four Ara students agree with Fox and Brouard added that one of the best parts of the project was to learn how other people deal with their emotions.

“One of the quotes was “When I am stressed…” and it was interesting to find out what others are doing when they feel that way. One person we talked to said they like to de-stress by playing video games.”

Perry mentioned additionally that through their campaign they also want to encourage staff and students to take an action when they feel a certain way.

“If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, that’s ok. What is important is you don’t feel like this all the time. You should also do something to make yourself feel better, for example go for a walk or play video games. If someone sees the posters around campus and thinks a walk or a game might help them as well when they feel a certain way then we’ve achieved our goal.”

Ara supports Mental Health Foundation

(from left to right) Caitlyn Rees, Marge Carran, Helen Marshall, Jo Borren, Malaefou Pouli and Felicity Lowen volunteered to run a fundraiser for the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.   

Ara staff and students actively support Mental Health Awareness Week which runs from 23-29 September across New Zealand and is an initiative organised by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.

A mixed team of staff and students, who are all in one way or another involved with mental health and wellbeing, championed the campaign by fundraising for the foundation.

Jo Borren, Ara Academic staff member in the Department of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health, said the idea for the fundraiser was born in Ara’s Wellbeing Action Group.

“Everyone at Ara was quite supportive of the fundraiser and people donated generously. Some also took the opportunity to stop for a while and share their stories with us.”

If you are struggling with your mental wellbeing, talk to a staff members in the Ara Health Centre, get some resources from All Right? or find more information at the Mental Health Foundation website.