Corrections and Justice say it's ok not be ok

The Department of Corrections

Leading up to Mental Health Awareness Week, The Department of Corrections ran a series of videos on their intranet featuring staff (including senior managers) talking about how to speak to someone you’re worried about, where to find support, and why it’s important to speak out about mental health if we are to reduce the stigma in the workplace.

This continued during MHAW, with videos of staff, for staff, speaking about how to build resilience, tactical breathing techniques and more. Every staff member was also given a mental health pocketbook with helpful tips and resources to keep at their desk or in their wallet.

Staff were encouraged to take up this year’s workplace challenge; To Connect with Ranginui/Sky Father and Papatūānuku/Earth Mother, to Keep Learning about Māori ancestral knowledge and our New Zealand history and Take Notice of how it can strengthen our wellbeing at work.

Staff were also encouraged to send in photos and stories of what they and their teams were doing during the week, to be featured on the intranet.

Around the country, prison and Community Corrections sites are running their own activities, such as exercise and mindfulness classes, mental health roadshows, planting succulents and nature treasure hunts.

Check out the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand’s feature on Corrections(external link).

If you would like to know more about Corrections mental health and wellbeing initiatives contact the Safety and Wellbeing team at safety&

The Ministry of Justice

The Ministry of Justice is using Mental Health Awareness Week to remind their people about the importance of mental health and wellbeing in making the Ministry a great place to be.

‘A place you can be’ represents a promise to make the Ministry a great place to work, and to support  people to be the best they can be.

It’s anchored by five core promises that reflect the type of organisation the Ministry wants to be:

  • healthy & safe – where asking for help is not a weakness
  • trusted – where everyone has a right to dignity and respect
  • involved – where your opinion matters
  • supported – where you’re encouraged and supported to pursue your ambitions
  • yourself – because simply we don’t hire staff... we hire people.

In early 2017, the Ministry started a journey to build and implement a wellbeing awareness and education programme to support a ‘place you can be healthy and safe’. The programme is sponsored by the Strategic Leadership Team who are committed and focused on building a sustainable culture with their people’s wellbeing at the centre.

Chief Executive, Andrew Bridgeman says, “we don’t just leave ourselves at the door when we arrive at work for the day.”

Programme topics so far include mental health, family violence, harassment and suicide awareness.

Each topic centres around an online learning module, supported by policy, communications, tools, resources, and integration with ongoing awareness activities such Mental Health Awareness Week

This week Justice have used their new Intranet to remind people about the wellbeing programme and also promote the resources made available by the Mental Health Foundation.

Justice has also been encouraging teams to participate in activities like getting out into nature, learning about each other and the workplace challenge. They have sent in photos, organised walks and attended events to hear how others have met their own challenges.

A story that inspired the agency is the commitment made by one of their people to run in the New York Marathon in early November. She is doing this to raise funds for the Mental Health Foundation in memory of her brother who had a lifelong struggle with mental health. She is more determined than ever to raise money for mental health, and on getting the message out that it’s ok to ‘just talk about it or stop and say, “are you ok?” and actually want to hear the answer.

The response to the programme has been really positive and includes comments like - “The MOJ making it ok to talk about mental health, at any level of stress/distress, makes it more likely people will feel safe to share and deal with issues that arise.” “The programme values the mental health of a person – as to what may be happening at home/personal life. Hence it’s not only about health and safety at work – which is perfect.”

If you would like to know more about Justice's mental health and wellbeing initiatives contact Helana Taylor at

For five days during Mental Health Awareness Week (8-14 October), the Government Health and Safety Lead is profiling a state sector agency and their plan to raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health and wellbeing.

Check out other agencies' plans