What Is Wellbeing?

Wellbeing means we have the tools, support and environments we need to be who we are and to build and sustain lives worth living.
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The Mental Health Foundation is committed to an Aotearoa where everyone can enjoy good mental health and wellbeing.

What does this mean? It means an Aotearoa where we feel good and do well, most of the time.

It doesn’t mean we don’t experience tough times – it doesn’t even mean that we don’t experience mental illness or distress!

It means we have the tools, support and environments we need to be who are we and to build and sustain lives worth living.

We use two key models of wellbeing to help us understand what we need to do as individuals, whānau, communities and as a society to ensure we can all enjoy good mental wellbeing. These models are 

What is mental health?

For many of us, when we talk about mental health we’re really talking about mental illness or mental distress. But, like physical health, mental health is something we all have and we need to look after it. There is no health without mental health. 

Good mental health boosts our physical health, creates resilience, helps us to feel happy, confident and secure. 

We believe everyone can enjoy good mental health and wellbeing – whether or not you have an experience of or a diagnosis of mental illness. 

Our goal is to move everyone – including those who experience mental illness – towards wellbeing. We know this is possible – we see it every day. 

Mental health is not just the absence of mental illness or the symptoms of mental illness. The actions we take to address symptoms doesn’t necessarily improve wellbeing. Mental wellbeing is feeling good, functioning well and feeling connected.

Sometimes focusing on mental health and wellbeing can feel too small and simple – especially when you’re going through a tough time. It can feel like advice to connect with others or go for a walk belittles what you’re going through. These things aren’t the whole picture, of course. We still need to have good mental health services, the right support from our whānau, friends and community, less prejudice and discrimination and we need to tackle a whole bunch of big problems like racism, poverty and violence. These are barriers to us feeling and functioning well – lobbying for a community that doesn’t have these barriers is what mental health promotion is doing. 

But we can’t wait for these things to happen before we focus on wellbeing. We can’t just focus on removing risk factors and barriers – if we really want to make sure New Zealanders have lives worth living we need to make sure we all have opportunities to connect, grow, learn and build good mental health and wellbeing.