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For many of us 2020 and 2021 has been a time where we have had to respond to change at speed, come to terms with restrictions on our lives and the lives of our friends and whānau, slow down in a way we hadn’t anticipated then "pivot" to adapt to an environment that can feel uncertain. 

Our wellbeing – your wellbeing/ tūhauora has been challenged in ways you may never have expected.

Below is a range of resources/ people/ information and learning that can support your emotional and mental health and wellbeing.

This suite of resources will be changed and added to frequently.


Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

MHAW 27 September - 3 October 2021 is run each year by the Mental Health Foundation

This year's theme is take time to kōrero/mā te kōrero, ka ora - a little chat can go a long way.

This MHAW is all about connecting with the people in our lives and creating space for conversations about mental health and wellbeing. Whether it’s checking in with a mate, having a kōrero over some kai or saying hello to a stranger, a little chat can go a long way. 


We’ve chosen this theme because the little, everyday conversations we have are surprisingly important – and they make a big difference to our mental health – so we want you to take notice of the kōrero that makes you feel good and do it more often. Over time, these small chats create meaningful connections, help us understand each other better and ensure we have people we can count on when times are tough.

You will see below a list of our people at OP that are always keen for a kōrero.


If you would like some resources to start your own kōrero contact People and Culture

Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)

What Services are available?  

Otago Polytechnic’s Employee Assistance Provider (EAP) is Benestar

  • MyCoach is a coaching/counselling service which is available face-to-face or over the phone. Coaches are trained to assist you with everything from mental health concerns to relationships to exercise and sleep – all in complete confidence.
  • BeneHub is a health and wellbeing portal that contains a vast library of health and wellbeing resources


Who can access these services?

All Otago Polytechnic staff can access the BeneHub portal.

To be eligible for free MyCoach sessions, staff must be employed at 0.4FTE or greater, and be a permanent staff member or employed on a fixed term contract that has at least six months remaining at the time they wish to access the service. OP will cover cost of the first three sessions for eligible staff.  


How do I access the Service?

It's easy to get started, and once you've registered you'll have secure access to the BeneHub portal and app.

  1. Visit and go to the BeneHub Login

  2. Enter your company details under the ‘Not Registered?’ heading:

    Token: OTPONZ01
  3. Provide a few simple details and create your own password

  4. You can phone 0800 360364 for assistance from Benestar






Supporting distressed students

If you have a student you are concerned about read through this flowchart for information on how to help.


Flowchart and guidelines

  Supporting students in distress flowchart

Policies and procedures

Otago Polytechnic takes it responsibilities as a good employer seriously and actively manages all forms of stress in the workplace.

Our commitment to this is outlined in the policies below.

Find out more about Harassment and Bullying Prevention through our online module here.




Professional Development opportunities

Otago Polytechnic is building a suite of tools to support staff wellbeing and mental health. 

Whether you are a lecturer, professional staff member or a leader there is a range of opportunities for learning:

  • GoodYarn Mental Health Awareness Training
  • Flourishing Institute - Thriving through change
  • Health and Safety Training
  • Courageous Conversations
  • Maintaining Professional Boundaries as an Academic

Find out more and book here

Mindfulness programme for staff (in development- watch this space.)




Feeling anxious right now?

Find out more...

Moving Through Anxiety in the Moment

There are things you can do when you're feeling anxious. It doesn't mean it's never going to come up again, but there are easier ways through those frightening moments.

If you're feeling panicky, these are especially helpful.

1. Reassure yourself that you're not in danger

Anxiety makes you think you actually are in danger. But you're not. Tell yourself that it's okay to be experiencing anxiety, and that it is just an experience (it's not going to last forever). Your mind and body believe it needs to warn you - but you are safe.  

2. Come back to the present

  • Breathe
    • HOW we breathe is important. Place your hand on your belly. Make sure your belly goes out as you breathe in. If you breathe quickly from your chest it's a panicky feeling (fight or flight). If you breathe slowly from the diaphragm, it calms your PNS (parasympathetic nervous system) - the one that's responsible for allowing you to 'rest and digest'. 
    • Do box breathing. If you feel panicky, this can be especially good. Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly. 
      Hold your breath inside while counting slowly to four. Slowly exhale for 4 seconds.
      Repeat steps 1 to 3 at least three times until you feel calm. 


  • Ground
    • Stop where you are and sit down if you can. Put your hands on the arms of the chair or your lap. Take a deep breath and let it out. Look around you. Name 3 things you can see. Name 3 things you can hear. Name 3 things you can smell. This brings you back to the present moment.

Sonia Voldseth - Living with Anxiety

Helpline details

If you need to access help for yourself or your whānau there are many helpline options here.

This is a list of services around New Zealand that provide support. help and information for a range of situations.


Taha hinengaro | Mental and emotional



Resources for Leaders

There is a huge range of resources to help you support your team's wellbeing. If you would like help to access these or to discuss how they could be used with your team contact your Health and Wellbeing Partner

  • The Mental Health Foundation has some very practical resources here.
  • Learn how to start a conversation with a colleague about mental health here 
  • Open Minds in conjunction with the Mental Health Foundation offers E Learning Modules for managers.  This will help leaders support staff through tough times in ways that will benefit the person and the organisation.
  • Watch New Zealand workplace leaders talk about mental health conversations at work.

Video courtesy of Open Minds - resources are produced by the Mental Health Foundation in collaboration with Attitude Group.

Play the Creating Culture video



A WRAP is not just an excellent option for lunch or a stylish frock- oh no a Wellness Recovery Action Plan is a great tool to help you or a colleague or whānau plan for when things get a little wobbly or to create a plan that reminds you of the ways to stay well.

Plans can be accessed via an app or on good old fashioned paper.

Visit the WRAP website for easy instructions, down loads and a range of wellness resources.


Visit WRAP