In light of Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW), Pasifika Futures (PFL) partner, Community Approach Trust, continues to work diligently to improve the well-being of their community. Taking care of one's mental health is a key focus for their team, with the organisation recently organising an eight-week programme to support mothers during the postpartum period.
It is widely acknowledged that the postpartum period can be an exhilarating yet isolating experience for new and returning mothers. Recognising the expressed needs from families they work with, Community Approach Trust took the proactive step of organising aqua aerobics swimming sessions tailored specifically for these mothers.
Whānau Ora Lead, Mava Tupou, shared the importance of the innovative programme and its importance for maternal mental health and wellness.
"We had a group of full-time stay at home mum’s that were always busy providing and catering to their family needs. They shared the same routine of cooking, cleaning, looking after family, doing pick-ups and drop-offs and repeating this every other day.
"This programme was put together to journey with our mum’s, initiating importance of self-care and doing something for themselves. This has been a new experience for our mothers. Many of them have not been to a swimming pool due to costs and lack of time. They were able to take part in an aqua aerobics class where they thoroughly enjoyed themselves with many laughs and the best part was that it highlighted that exercise can be fun."
Tupou shared that it was important for the organisation to provide a safe space for them so that they could celebrate themselves and build new connections while socialising with other mothers.
The topic of mental health can be broad and it’s important to acknowledge that caring for our well-being can look different for everybody when seen through a holistic lens.
Community Approach Trust has a number of different programmes and events that aim to approach well-being holistically and to inspire a healthy mindset for their community.
“We host family camps, health programmes and evening events for youth. We also aim to help relieve some of the immediate pressures for our families that can really take a toll on their stress such as providing school uniforms for children, food vouchers and in some cases helping out with overdue bills."
Tupou also acknowledges the importance of well-being for their own staff and role modelling what it means to take care of yourself.
“Mental health is very significant as it reflects in our work and our work space. We aim to have a safe and manageable caseload so we aren’t over worked and burning out.
“We create a positive environment where we are able to own, acknowledge and control our own personal mental health. It's about being able to laugh, enjoying the work and to journey as a team to achieve the same goal."
Community Approach Trust's commitment to excellence extends beyond MHAW and is evident in their everyday dedication to serving families and individuals.
"There is a saying that you can’t pour from an empty cup. We are in a space and culture where we are conditioned to give. When we don’t take care of ourselves, we pour from an empty cup where we are in a place of deficiency.
“We need to be in a space where our cup is full, if not overflowing, to provide the best support for those in need to get them to the best version of themselves and to be self-sufficient."