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Work can be a big part of our lives so it makes sense that it affects our wellbeing in different ways.

Meaningful work can give you purpose and motivation. Having a difficult time at work or in your life can make work feel overwhelming.


Work can play a major role in our lives. For many of us, most of our time is spent at work. Changes to your mahi, environment or your team can create challenges in your working life. It is normal to feel sick of work from time to time, but if you feel like your work is becoming too much, it might be time to reach out for help.

It is important to balance how much time and emotional energy you put into work, whānau and looking after yourself. Giving as much as you can at work might not mean giving 100% every day. Even if you’re not working in a job you love, you can find meaning through work in different ways. This could be regular customers or co-workers who get you through the day. 

As you figure out what’s making you feel the way you do, you might find that you want a career change. Switching jobs is normal, and many people often take time out to figure out what they really want in life.

Support at work

Everyone goes through tough times. When you need some support, it can be helpful to talk to someone at your workplace about what is going on.

You may be worried that your employer will think you can’t do your job, or what you say won’t be confidential. You are in control of what you share and deserving of support. Taking the first step in getting support is often the hardest. Check out our page on how you can start the conversation.

It is unlawful for employers to use mental health as a reason to not promote you, to treat you differently or to dismiss you from your job. If this is happening, you can make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, employees are protected by anti-discrimination laws. This means that employers must be able to support their employees who need it.

What this might look like:

  • Changing or reducing hours and responsibilities at work.
  • Free counselling through employee assistance programmes (EAP).
  • Flexibility to work from home.
  • Mentoring at work.
  • Sick leave, annual leave or special leave.

Worksafe provides more information about mental health at work for employers and employees.


If you’ve lost your job or can’t work right now, it might be taking a toll on your mental health. There is nothing wrong with you if you’re not in a job right now. Not working for whatever reason does not make you a failure.

If you’ve lost your job, you might be worrying about what the future holds. You might also be feeling betrayed or blaming yourself. If you have been let go from a job, you have the right to ask your employer for a written statement with the reasons for dismissal. If you feel your employer has been unfair or unjust, you have the right to make a complaint to the Employment Relations Authority.

Not being able to find work after leaving a job can be really discouraging. Constant rejection can knock your confidence and self-esteem. You might also be feeling disappointed that you can’t support your family. Talking about how you’re feeling with someone you trust can help lighten the load.

There are supports available if you aren’t working

If you’re not working, WINZ can provide financial help provides information to help you search for jobs

Find out what other financial and social support is available to you

Get information from Employment New Zealand about dismissal

Workplace culture

Workplace culture is influenced by management and employee relationships and can significantly impact your mental health. A negative environment can form when employees feel undervalued and unsupported. Overwhelming work demands, lack of safety in raising concerns and experiences like bullying can affect your mental wellbeing. Employers are required to make sure everyone feels safe at work.

If you have raised concerns and nothing has changed, you may want to try these things:

  • Speak to someone you trust – this could be an HR representative, co-worker, friend or whānau.
  • Speak to your union representative – your union will advocate for your rights in the workplace.
  • Check your workplace policy about bullying.
  • Make a formal complaint.
  • Use an employee assistance programme.
  • Check out what Employment New Zealand has to say about bullying.

A positive work culture and supportive colleagues can make all the difference. Even if you aren’t working in a job you love, the people around you can get you through the day.


A busy workplace can cause stress and burnout. Even if you feel supported at work, burnout can still happen from working in a physically or mentally demanding job or other things in your life outside of work. Burnout happens when we are pushed to our mental, physical and emotional limits. 

Burnout and depression can have similar physical and emotional symptoms, but they are not the same. Burnout is caused by long-term stress or overworking and can sometimes lead to a depressive episode. While you can have depression and burnout at the same time, depression will not cause burnout. Learn more about the signs of depression here.

If you are feeling burnt out, you might find that things that usually come easily to you require more effort. Even getting up for work in the morning can feel completely overwhelming. You might feel that you don’t have the energy to do things outside of work any more.

Feeling exhausted from the demands of life is normal, and everyone needs support from time to time.

Finding balance can be hard, especially when you may need to work long hours or multiple jobs to support yourself and your whānau.

Here are a few things you can try:

  • Talk to a friend about how you are feeling.
  • Eat well and get enough sleep.
  • Take breaks at work.
  • Try reconnecting with something you enjoy like sport or a hobby.

You can ask for help at any time. Nothing is never ‘not serious enough’. If you need help, it is okay to ask. Our page on mental health resources has more information.

To speak to a trained counsellor, you can call or text 1737, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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