The future of mental health - written by Sophie Sidey

Mental Health organisation, Our Hauora, uses the Hauora model which shows how all aspects of our well-being influence and impact each other. “Lots of people think that if you go to the gym or workout, you’re healthy- but it’s so much more than that. It’s about mental fitness, not just physical fitness- learning to be in control of your thoughts, emotions and reactions so that they don’t control you,” said Our Hauora founder Ella Sidey.

Our Hauora supports people to care for their well-being, and mental health. Sidey teaches people life skills so that they can be more in control of their thoughts, emotions, and reactions, and be more resilient and confident throughout the ups in downs of life. 

Journaling, meditation, breath-work, eating nourishing foods and movement are her favourite tools.  

According to research conducted by the National Science Foundation, “the average person has about 12,000 to 60,00 thoughts per day, 80% of those are negative”.

Mindfulness helps us to bring awareness to ‘right here, right now’ in the present moment. “People spend so much time on technology these days, often comparing their lives to others, living in a fast-paced world, so we need to learn how to slow down, calm our minds and bodies so that we can thrive and simply enjoy life,” said Sidey. 

The Our Hauora programme is designed to ensure that no child needs to grow up questioning their purpose, or how to take care of themselves. 

One day Sidey created a vision board and looked at what she wanted to do in her life. “Once you live your life with passion and impact, you just want to jump out of bed every morning.”  

Sidey won a prize in the ‘Start Me Up’ programme which helped fund her business start-up costs. “Lots of positive self-talk and stopping when I get tired or overwhelmed has been a big help. I take risks often and have learned to trust the process - because the ups and downs in my life and in my business, have led me to where I am today.”  

She started off with a school holiday programme for 5–12-year-old children doing gardening, cooking, and yoga. Next, Sidey started doing workshops for a business and realised how much people were struggling with negative thoughts and no work-life balance. She knew that her tools helped her get through tough times and wanted to share this with people no matter their age.   

In 2017 after Sidey graduated with a teaching degree, she moved back to Christchurch and taught in a primary school for three years. She found a passion for teaching mindfulness to young children and luckily the school supported this. While Sidey was a passionate, dedicated teacher, she struggled with work-life balance and left teaching in 2019, feeling low and negative. Sidey wanted to travel and explore the world but one week before leaving for London the first covid lockdown came. 

Sidey felt that there was so much more to teaching after the Christchurch earthquakes, mosque attacks, and now a pandemic. She created Our Hauora to teach children at an early age how to take care of their minds and bodies. 

Since then, she has found a passion for supporting adults to calm their minds and prioritize more time for themselves. The tools that Our Hauora provides and teaches are simple as they don’t take long but with consistency, everyone can enjoy more moments in life. 

Learning how to calm our nervous systems by noticing when we are in a frantic or stressed moment is important and Sidey’s tools are a way of supporting those who are struggling. “Our nervous systems are often overstimulated meaning people are struggling with mental health or noticing that New Zealand’s youth suicide rate is frightful,” she said. “I have discovered what it’s like to be at ‘rock bottom’ and I have used tools over the past few years that have been beneficial.”

Sidey recommends limiting the time you spend on technology, being outside, sleeping eight or more hours a night and eating healthy food.