by CAMERON TAYLOR
Earthquakes destroyed many of Christchurch’s beautiful church buildings, but the latest All Right? survey
shows churches and other faith networks are integral to the wellbeing of many Cantabrians.
A public health specialist for the Canterbury District Health Board and All Right?, Dr Lucy D’Aeth, said religion
and faith can be a major driver of a person’s wellbeing.
The All Right? wellbeing campaign is a Healthy Christchurch project led by the Mental Health Foundation and the Canterbury District Health Board, to help Cantabrians recover from the 2010-2011 earthquakes and their aftermath.
All Right? commissions annual surveys of Canterbury’s population to inform their campaign, and to monitor the psychosocial recovery of the region.
The latest All Right? survey results show nearly half of Cantabrians (41%) say their religion or faith has helped
them to deal with the last four years — all of the aftershocks, ongoing road works, and damaged houses.
“One fact from the latest All Right? survey that’s really stood out for me was how the number of people who say that they feel connected to church, worship, prayer or karakia has risen slightly over the four years since the earthquakes,” Dr D’Aeth said.
“The All Right? research shows many Cantabrians, particularly men, have a relatively limited number of people around them who they feel really close to. Communities like churches can provide vital connections for people who feel isolated. We know that many people find church communities have been pillars of support and wellbeing for them, by being safe places with people available to listen and share.”
Being associated with formal religion gives people a great opportunity to practise the five ways to wellbeing
— connect, give, take notice (admire small things, beauty), learn and be active, she said.
International research shows incorporating the 5 Ways into your everyday routine can give you a much needed boost, Dr D’Aeth said.
“If you go to an arts and crafts group and chat while you’re working, you could be learning something new, and
connecting. You’re getting the benefits of two of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing in one activity.”