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People who can help

You are not alone.

There are many people in the community who are there to support you.

three women walking under cherry blossom

Finding your support network

It's natural to feel isolated during tough times. You might feel disconnected or believe that no one will understand. Many people have felt this way and have found their path forward. You can too.

Begin by connecting with one person, and over time, grow a supportive circle of friends, family, colleagues, educators, community leaders and healthcare professionals. Find the people who will stand by you and help you learn, grow and heal. This section suggests potential members of your support network and how they can help. Remember, your support network is unique to you, and you decide who's a part of it.

Friends and whānau

Your friends and family might be your first go-to for support. They're familiar with and understand your background and experiences. If you're considering reaching out, we offer guidance for both you and your loved ones.

If talking about mental health with close ones feels difficult, that's okay. Everyone's journey is different. Explore other support options listed here, and remember that you deserve understanding and care.

Community groups

Community groups encourage connections for shared purposes. Whether it's a sports club, religious organisation or online forum, being part of a community can be empowering.

“In our group sessions, we create a safe space for rangatahi to equip themselves with the right tools to navigate their wellbeing journey.” – Matt, mental wellbeing kaiārahi

If there are community groups you feel connected to, consider how they might be able to help you right now. There might be people in these groups you can talk to, or there might be a safe space for you to spend more time in. Being part of a community and doing things with and for other people can help us to find purpose and meaning.

Your local library can help you to find community groups

Kaumātua, elders and leaders

“Traditionally, when we were ailing inside, we would go to our grandparents.” – Dr Diane Kopua

Elders and leaders often have wisdom from their experiences. Consider reaching out to grandparents, spiritual leaders or mentors. Their insights might provide the comfort you need

“I remember my principal and kaumātua telling me stories of their own lives at my age. As they told these stories, they shared the ways in which they saw themselves in me. I admired them both deeply, and their words encouraged me to extend that admiration toward myself. When I felt small and purposeless, their words gave me hope.” Manisha

Peer support

Peer support is about mutual understanding and is often focused around shared experiences of mental distress like anxiety or depression. Peer support services are different from a casual chat with friends, Peer support workers are trained to provide support through a tuakana-teina approach.

In peer support, everyone's experiences are valued, encouraging mutual care and understanding. Peer support uses intentional sharing, connecting and learning from each other to move towards your goals for your life.

"That journey through peer support and being a peer supporter and staying on the phone lines helped me recover" Watch Michelle's story

These services can help you find peer support:

Health professionals

Health professionals trained in mental health can offer guidance. Start with your GP who can provide advice and referrals.

Things to remember when making an appointment:

  • Ask for extra time to kōrero (talk) with your doctor.
  • Consider taking a friend or whānau with you for support.
  • Share how you’ve been feeling and symptoms you’ve been experiencing.
  • List the things you’ve tried that have or have not helped.
  • Let your doctor know if you’re on any other medications or treatments.

If your current treatment doesn’t seem to be working, you can ask to try another approach. If you’re not comfortable with your health professional, you can ask to change to another one.

Work and Income may be able help to cover the cost of prescriptions and appointments. Check to see if you are eligible for a Community Services Card here.

Check out our page about types of treatment.

Health improvement practitioners

Some GP clinics have health improvement practitioners (HIPs) who are trained mental health and addictions practitioners. They offer holistic support for mental health challenges from sleep issues to relationship challenges.

Speak to your GP to see if this is an option for you.

Counsellors and psychotherapists

Counsellors and psychotherapists assist in navigating life’s challenges. A counsellor will enable you to feel heard and will help you to see your experiences from different perspectives. They will support you to focus on feelings, experiences or behaviour that will help you to make changes for the better.

"The benefit for me was the counsellor actually had strategies to get me to understand why I was experiencing the emotions that I was." Watch Donna's story

Psychologists and psychiatrists

Psychologists are health professionals who can assess for and diagnose mental health conditions. They offer specific talking therapies and approaches customised to individual needs.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors specialising in mental health. They collaborate with other health professionals for comprehensive care.

Social workers

Social workers support individuals who are dealing with various life aspects impacting mental health, from crisis support to accessing services.

Whānau Ora navigators

Whānau Ora navigators will act as an advocate for you and your whānau through the health and social services you can access. They work from a mātauranga Māori framework.

Rongoā practitioners

These practitioners work in rongoā Māori, an indigenous method of healing, to help with a range of different conditions. Find a registered practitioner here.

Brief intervention councillors

Brief intervention councillors provide short interventions to help with life’s challenges. They are free to access – talk to your GP about getting a referral.

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