We’re proud to partner with the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand and support the great work they do, whether it be fundraising, encouraging conversations about mental health, or taking care of their office coffee. They’ve also been very supportive and encouraging of us too.

March sees the Mental Health Foundation launch their latest initiative, The Mullet Matters. Each year, one in five New Zealanders face serious challenges with their mental health and by partaking in growing a mullet this March, you can help spark a conversation about mental health. Their mission is to see the country taken over by a sea of magnificent mullets — a beautiful vision and something we can get behind.

Ahead of the official unleash your mullet day, we managed to grab a cuppa with Shaun Robinson, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, to chat conversations around mental health, his mullet journey and how you can get involved in The Mullet Matters — there’s still time!

Q. Hey Shaun, what's your official role at the MHF? What does this mean your days look like?
I’m Chief Executive of the MHF. Like many chief executives, each day presents challenges and requires quick thinking and action. It’s a role that requires MHF to adapt to the wellbeing needs of New Zealanders, like the recent weather events have shown. It’s challenging speaking to the mental wellbeing of all New Zealanders, but we know that our work can uplift people in times of need. Our resources reach nearly a million New Zealanders a year. We know there is a need to understand and help support those living with mental distress, so our work is ongoing.

Q. We hear you’ve got a new fundraising campaign this month, tell us about Mullets That Matter.
We’re excited about Mullets That Matters. By growing a mullet this March, you have the power to break down barriers to mental health. Not only is our mission to see New Zealand taken over by a sea of magnificent mullets, but also to continue to provide mental health support for you, your loved ones, and our communities in their greatest times of need. The Mental Health Foundation produces resources that contain information to help you support someone you care about in mental distress. The demand for these resources is great, one million are downloaded or distributed physically each year and we know the need for these resources is only going to grow. We have a $300,000 shortfall in funding to help distribute these resources, so money raised will really help.

Q. We’ve also heard that you’re nursing your very own mullet. Talk us through this journey.
I’m early days into sporting a mullet, but I’m willing my hair to grow! My hairdresser has given me some good advice about fluffing up my hair to give it more ‘body’!

Q. It’s a mullet-off. David Bowie vs Hulk Hogan?
It’s a tough one but I’d have to say Bowie on the basis of the shocking red colour!

Q. How can people get involved in Mullets That Matter?
Visit themulletmatters.co.nz. You can donate to the cause, or set up a fundraising page. You can always sponsor me – my hairdresser says my hair can smell money and grows faster for each dollar sponsored!

Q. What’re some ways that you take care of your mental health?
I live with bipolar disorder, so I face some big on-going challenges – but I reckon I live well! I do take medications but on their own they aren’t the answer. The little lifestyle things I’ve adopted are absolutely key – so I make sure I keep connected to family and friends and also have a sense of community through my neighbourhood and a club I belong to. I try to be kind and generous and offer support to others. I eat healthy food, limit alcohol, have a sleep routine, I do some mild exercise each day. I do things that relax and ground me and keep me in the here and now – I try to notice what’s happening in nature around me, and I garden. I listen to podcasts, try to learn new things on guitar and generally keep my mind active.

These things help me to be well and happy most of the time. When I get depressed or anxious, I try hard not to fight it, I accept that it's happening and remind myself that it will pass – then I double down on those lifestyle things – I say hi to the neighbour, I go for a bike ride, I dead head the lavender … even though I don’t feel like it. I know it’s good for me, so I do it and over about a week the depression starts to lift.

Q. What’s the number one thing people should do for their own mental health?
If I had to pick one thing, I’d say stay connected to people. Reach out to friends and whānau regularly. Try to build relationships where you are authentic, honest and open. Also get active in some form of community- a club, sports, neighbourhood, on-line, church , marae… we all need sense of belonging to a group.

Q. What’s your coffee set-up at home like?
Strong black coffee is part of who I am. Im a plunger man as I’m too impatient to make espressos and I like how you can make plungers strong. I have a mega big plunger and start my day with 2.5 mugs of beautiful black treacle!

Q. Do you have a favourite Supreme coffee?
Ethiopia Buku Sayisa… made super strong.

Q. Who’s the one person you’d love to sit and have a coffee with?
Being a constant advocate for better mental health I’d have to say the PM Chris Hipkins – but for fun … Obama … or David Bowie … or Frida Kahlo.

Q. Anything you’re dying to answer that we haven’t asked?
I’d just encourage everyone every day to do those little things that boost our wellbeing – we can all do with more wellbeing!

It only takes two minutes to sign up to The Mullet Matters. Pop your details in and decide whether you’re partaking as an individual or as a team. Then sit back, relax and let the locks grow. We get it, sometimes you need to mullet-over. That’s why we’ve donated prizes that we hope will be the motivation you need to let the world know that the mullet, and mental health, matter.

The top fundraising team and top fundraising individual will each receive a year’s worth of Coffee Supreme and a Moccamaster. Plus, anyone who signs up and receives a donation on their page, will go in the draw to win a year’s worth of coffee, too. If you ever needed a reason to grow a mullet, this is it.


The Mullet Matters - Summer's haircut from Mental Health Foundation on Vimeo.


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