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Collaborative art completed during Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental health and addictions

When life is challenging, there is always someone around to support you and connect your to the right place to access the support or care you need.

Maintaining mental well-being is an important aspect of living well, and managing the stresses of life. Challenges with mental health and addictions are common, and can affect anyone. 

Across Te Whatu Ora Southern there are a range of services to support you and your family members through these experiences, whether through short-term assistance, or ongoing care.

If you or someone that you know needs help urgently and could be an serious and immediate danger to themselves or others, please call the Mental Health Emergency Helpline on 0800 46 78 46 (Press 1 for Southland and 2 for Otago Regions) or if the danger is imminent you feel you cannot immediately the manage the situation you can call the Police on 111.

You can free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

Find help now

When should I seek help?

Experiencing emotional distress is very normal, and not everyone requires professional support. Many people can manage their situation with support from friends and family. They may also benefit from some of the many resources available for building resilience and mindfulness.

However, if your concerns are leading to difficulties for you or those around you, please seek additional support.

Some excellent advice on worrying signs to look out for, and additional resources for supporting those in need, can be found at the Mental Health Foundation.

I need help for myself or someone I know - where should I start?

There are many mental health and addictions services available, and as much as possible, we try to make sure that any starting point is the right starting point. The professionals who work across the system are able to point you to the service that is right for you. The most important thing is that you do reach out.

In many cases, good starting points are: 

  • Your GP. Often they know you and your wider situation, and can assist you or refer to you other help.
  • A trusted professional, such as a school counsellor
  • Helplines. You can free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor. There are also a range of other helplines for particular needs, such as Youthline and Gambling Helpline.
Accessing specialist care

In some situations, you may require the support of specialist mental health and addiction services  such as a psychiatrist, nurse or allied health professional at the DHB. Normally, this will involve a referral from your GP or psychologist, via our mental health liaison service, or from Emergency Psychiatric Services.

Everyone's care is different. Our starting point is supporting you to live as normally as possible, with the support of mental health and addictions teams as needed. Some people will also receive additional support, either on short-term or longer-term basis. This can include supported accommodation.

In some circumstances, your care programme may include a stay in an inpatient unit. Normally these admissions are for short periods, to enable an assessment of your condition, and the right treatment plan to be put in place. Mostly these inpatient units are 'open' - although you are expected to let staff know if you are leaving the premises and when you'll be back. Some inpatient units are closed, and you will only be able to leave under certain conditions.

Sometimes individuals may require specialist mental health care - either while remaining in the community or as an inpatient - but do not wish to receive this. An application for compulsory treatment may need to be made under the Mental Health Act 1992 to enable this to take place. More information about this process can be found here. 

10 ways to support someone experiencing distress

With around one in five New Zealanders experiencing challenges with their mental health, chances are you know someone who is having a difficult time? Maybe this person is a close friend or member of your whānau. If you’re struggling to know how to support them, you’re not alone.

That’s why Just a Thought has put together this helpful resource which provides simple suggestions on how to support someone experiencing emotional distress.  

Mental Health 10 Ways


Support for yourself

Getting advice and support for yourself is vital so you can look after your wellbeing and continue to be there for your friend or loved one.  The following websites may be of help:

What to do if your friend/family member won’t talk to you 
Try not to take this personally. It could be that they just don’t want to worry you. Stay open and let them know you’re there for them. It may also be helpful to give them information about organisations or people they can reach out to.

Useful organisations and resources

While it may feel difficult for your friend or loved one to talk with you, they may find it easier talking in confidence to a trained counsellor or volunteer for support and advice. You can find a list of helpful numbers on the Just a Thought website.

You could also suggest they try one of Just a Thought’s online therapy courses. They’re free and can be accessed anytime, from anywhere, all that is needed is a connection to the internet and a mobile or desktop device:

COVID new apps

It’s all right not to be all right. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on how we interact with others, our work, study and many other aspects of our daily lives. Everyone reacts differently to difficult events, and some may find this time more challenging than others. It's totally normal to feel a bit shaken and on-edge right now. These are truly extraordinary times.

It’s understandable if you or your loved ones sometimes feel sad, distressed, worried or anxious. The ways people think, feel and behave are likely to change over time – we all have good days and bad days. So it’s important to look after your mental wellbeing. If you or those around you are concerned about your mental wellbeing, there are tools and information available to help. Check out Mental health services | Health Information and Services for some tools to look after your mental wellbeing and ways to reach out for help if you need it.

Tools and apps available:

You might be interested to know that as part of the COVID-19 response, we have launched the following tools:

  • Mentemia provides mental wellbeing coaching after getting to know you a little through a personality quiz and what focus areas you have, like sleeping better, stressing less, or helping support a loved one.
  • Melon  is an app that provides a health journal, resources and self-awareness tools to help people manage their emotional wellbeing. Melon also has an online community for New Zealanders to connect and support each other and daily webinars for health and wellbeing.
  • Melon Manual is a kete of resources specifically for teenagers’ emotional wellbeing. The website provides videos, downloadable worksheets and shareable social media illustrations to support the young people of Aotearoa, as well as a ‘First steps to managing anxiety’ mini-course.
  • Staying on track is an e-therapy course for people experiencing worry and distress, which teaches practical strategies to cope with stress and disruption of day-to-day life due to COVID-19.
  • Getting Through Together is a mental wellbeing campaign focused on things we can all do to maintain our mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic, with practical tips for looking after yourself and your whānau.
  • Sparklers at Home is an online toolkit for parents, full of fun activities that support the wellbeing of primary and intermediate students.

Supporting Families offers free support, education and information for family and whânau affected by mental health and addiction, including support groups to engage with others who may be experiencing similar issues.The Mental Health Foundation offers information, support services and resources on a wide range of mental health and wellbeing issues, including a list of support groups across New Zealand. Healthpoint is a service that can provide help regarding referrals, services, or any health-related issues.

Mental health and wellbeing support for Māori

Funding has been provided to boost phone support by local iwi call centres for their kaumātua and kuia to ensure they feel supported and know where to get help if they need it. Māori tangata whaiora – those with experience of mental illness – are likely to be impacted especially by the physical isolation of lockdown. To keep connected with these people, mobile phones and data bundles have been provided free to mental health and addiction providers so they can continue to deliver their services to their community.

13 Māori providers across the country continue to provide support to tangata whaiora and have developed additional training for staff and whānau, specific wānanga for tane, wahine, rangatahi. 12 Māori organisations are located in the North Island and one in the South Island:

  • Te Kotuku ki te Rangi, Auckland
  • Piritahi Hauora, Waiheke Island
  • Te Rūnanga o Kirikiriroa, Hamilton
  • Ngāti Maniapoto Marae Pact Trust, Te Kuiti
  • Tūhoe Hauora, Taneatua, Bay of Plenty
  • Te Whānau o Apanui, Te Kaha, Eastern Bay of Plenty
  • Te Kupenga Net Trust, Gisborne
  • Turanga Health, Gisborne
  • Ngāti Porou Hauora, Te Puia Springs
  • Te Taumata o Ngāti Whakaue, Rotorua
  • Te Oranganui, Whanganui
  • Te Waka Whaiora, Porirua, Wellington
  • Te Kākākura Health Services, Christchurch

COVID-19 support for Māori information and resources

  • A Mental Health Advance Preferences Statement - also sometimes known as an MAP or an advance directive - is a way for you to let people know what you would like to happen if you experience an episode of mental distress and are unable to communicate your preferences.
  • Challenges with mental health and addictions are common, and can affect anyone. They can range from something like not having enough sleep to cope with problems that come up, to being overwhelmed by life in general.
  • Mental health promotion includes promoting positive mental health messages for all and particularly those most disadvantaged, enabling individual contribution to community goal achievements and coping with normal life stresses
  • Autonomy, Belonging, Identity & Resilience Measurement Tool

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