Social workers support for World Mental Health Day and Mental Health Awareness Week

Wednesday 10 October 2007, 4:40PM
By Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers

Social workers support for World Mental Health Day and Mental Health Awareness Week

The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) expressed its support today for the Culture and Diversity theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day (10 October 2007).

“Our members make an important contribution to the mental health workforce and mental health services in Aotearoa New Zealand and as a bicultural organisation we fully support the Mental Health Foundation in its interpretation of this year’s theme as an opportunity to celebrate ‘Who we are and where we stand: Ko Papatuanuku toku turangawaewae’,” says Rose Henderson, ANZASW President.

“The Foundation has produced a strong image for Mental Health Awareness Week that reflects the diverse range of ethnicities that now reside in New Zealand and have adopted this place as their home. Including a reference to the cultural clues to New Zealand in our landscape and to standing strong in the place you belong makes the image even stronger.

“The ANZASW would also like to note and acknowledge the role of Professor Max Abbott, now Pro-Vice Chancellor at AUT, in establishing World Mental Health Day 15 years ago”.

“The ANZASW welcomes the global focus today on the ever-growing numbers of people who live outside their countries of birth, given that one person out of 35 worldwide is an international migrant.

“Social workers are extremely familiar with the profound negative effects of discrimination and social exclusion on the wellbeing and mental health of people they work with in the community, and support the Mental Health Foundation’s focus on good mental health coming from celebrating each person’s uniqueness, connecting with each other, supporting others in their journey and sharing stories,” says Rose Henderson.

“In the mental health care setting there is more awareness now that a person’s culture will impact on how they label and communicate distress. As outlined by the World Federation for Mental Health, people from different cultures in our society will not all explain the causes of mental health problems or perceive mental health providers in the same way. They will use and respond to mental health treatment differently. In this sense it is important to constantly take the time to recognize the role of culture and diversity and to constantly remember that one size or one approach doesn’t fit all.”

“Internationally the role of social work in mental health is slowly gaining greater recognition based on its long history in the field, the quality of social work education and a growing awareness of the scale of effective social work being provided. In the USA, for instance, social workers provide more mental health services than psychologists, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses combined.

Contact for this media release:
Rose Henderson
President, ANZASW
(027) 435 2356

Dominic Chilvers
Executive Officer, ANZASW
(03) 358 6920 or (027) 286 7625


Background for ANZASW/ The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) is the professional body for Social Workers in this country. It was formed in 1964 and currently has 3300 members. Social Workers work in a variety of settings including government agencies such as Child Youth and Family Services and District Health Board settings, various non-government and community organisations including iwi agencies and also in private practice and consultancy. Fields of practice include youth justice, child protection, health, mental health, addictions, disability, families/whanau, research, policy, training, and education.