How would you define mental health and what does good mental health mean to you?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It could also have a significant impact on one's physical health over an extended period of time as well. I like to think of good mental health as not an absence of mental illness, but a healthy state of well-being that allows individuals to cope with everyday stresses in life.
What are some ways you encourage students to check in with their mental health?
There are four main areas to check on an individual's mental health and well-being, and those are,
1. Taha Whānau - Social Well-being (friends, family, community interactions etc.)
2. Taha Tinana – Physical Health (physical activity, house chores, regular sleep, eating healthy etc.)
3. Taha Hinengaro – Mental/Emotional Health (boundaries, coping mechanisms, a strong sense of self, Intune with thoughts and feelings etc.)
4. Taha Wairua – Spiritual Health (relaxation, mindfulness, walks on the beach, anything that makes you feel grounded etc.)
Exploring these four areas of an individual's life could be an eye-opener. They may be able to see areas where they have neglected or a change has occurred.
I cannot stress enough the importance of self-care. Our mind and body require good fuel and rest to function efficiently. Self-care doesn't need to be difficult, but we do need to take the time to recharge. I often use the metaphor that a cell phone needs to be charged so we can use it; self-care is precisely the same. This might look different for everyone, but self-care generally recharges our batteries. This could be getting quality sleep, drinking plenty of water, getting out and about in nature, setting healthy boundaries, reading a book, catching up with friends etc.
Do you have any advice for people supporting their friends/whanau with their mental health?
What should someone do if struggling with their mental health?
Talk to someone (friend, family, counsellor etc.)
Speak to a GP
Contact crisis teams if you need to
Do you have any advice particularly for students in the hair/ beauty industry to manage their mental health?
The hairdressing and beauty industry is a very demanding profession. You are required to perform a service on the spot, which is often a lot of pressure. Stylists are also required to interact with people and provide customer service in a professional manner; this could also be very difficult if you are not in a good mindset. My advice would be to ensure you are maintaining good self-care. Being aware of your body's aches and pains is also a must. Often when we feel run down, we start to get muscle tension within the body. If this is left unattended, it could cause long-term struggles such as carpal tunnel and RSI. It is ideal to see a chiropractor or physiotherapist if you have ongoing aches and pain. Eat regular small meals and stay hydrated throughout the day. If a student is going through a lot emotionally, I would advise them to speak to their tutors, managers, or bosses about it. In my experience, my employers were a great support.