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 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
“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 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:
- Community Support Groups | Mental Health Foundation.
- Family Services Directory.
- Citizens Advice Bureau community directory.
- Yellow Brick Road provides peer support for whānau.
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.
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 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.
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.