We aspire to a flourishing New Zealand, where a good level of mental wellbeing is attainable for everyone, outcomes are equitable across the whole of our society, and people who experience mental distress have the resilience, tools and support they need to regain their wellbeing. This vision is consistent with what we heard across the country. Everyone should have the opportunity to ‘live well’, whether or not they have active symptoms of mental illness or a particular diagnosis. Our mental health services must have a strong focus on wellbeing, encompassing all aspects of people’s lives and ensuring people have the support they need to live well.
A flourishing New Zealand will prioritise the wellbeing of children and young people. Every child will be nurtured from conception and protected throughout childhood from the impacts of violence, alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Every child will be well nourished, live in a warm, safe environment where they are wanted, protected, loved and cared for, and where their parents are well supported to provide them with the necessities of life.
Mental wellbeing isn’t just about the absence of mental distress or harmful substance use. So what is it? Ideas about wellbeing differ widely among different populations, groups and individuals. They also change throughout our lives and as our circumstances change. Overall, mental wellbeing is most likely when we are safe and secure and feel connected, valued, worthy, accepted for who we are, and hopeful for the future. For many of us this comes from growing up in loving families and whānau where we feel strongly connected and are nurtured and nourished; learning in great schools; having strong cultural, social and, for some, spiritual connections; being fit and healthy; having friends and family, a job, a home and a safe neighbourhood; being creative and having fun; contributing to our communities; having control over our lives; and mattering to other people.
Mental wellbeing is deeply connected to wider wellbeing in our society. We need to embed this understanding in everything we do – within our mental health and addiction system, our wider health and social system, and at every level of society.