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‘How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World’

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SDHB Clinical Psychologist to hold free public talks in Southern

The Southern DHB invites members of the public in the Southern region to register for a free talk about ‘How to Stay Sane in a Crazy World’.

Consultant Clinical Psychologist Henck van Bilsen will present his ideas on how we can look after our mental well-being.

The talk, timed to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week 21-27 September, will be offered at several locations around the Southern region.  Audience numbers for each session will be limited to 100 people, in-line with Level 2 guidelines, so registration is essential.

Henck van Bilsen

Henck van Bilsen

The initiative is a response to the impact of COVID-19 on the health and wellbeing of people in Southern communities, and focuses on teaching people strategies to help them deal with thoughts that lead to stress, anxiety and depression.

“Things can and will go wrong for all of us sometimes, especially in these times of COVID. If you feel stressed, overwhelmed, depressed or anxious, or if you find you are not living the way you want to live, this will introduce you to new ways of how you can help yourself.”

During his 40 years of experience as a clinical psychologist Henck has learned that lectures and short workshops on mental well-being can have a huge impact on the resilience of people and communities. He previously worked in the United Kingdom where he used the facilitation of workshops and lectures to reduce waiting lists for psychological therapy.

“For example, there were 350 people on a waiting list who wanted to access therapy, and by offering full day workshops we found that about 60% of them felt that this met their need and they didn’t require further therapy. By doing a workshop they were able to access help faster and in a way they felt more comfortable.”

He has also used the same approach in the Waikato, where he worked prior to Southern.

“It just seems a sensible way we can reach out to our Southern community as people deal with the effects of the pandemic.

“The talks (and in some cases workshops) are open to everyone who wants to learn new ways of overcoming ‘mental misery’.  ‘Misery’ encompasses all the emotional and behavioural problems we can be confronted with: anxieties, depression, consuming too much alcohol or drugs, shyness, hurt, guilt, shame and embarrassment.

Misery Diagram

“We have identified essential skills that, when we do not use them, create and increase misery, through thinking irrationally, not using emotional community, lacking compassion with oneself and not leading a meaningful life.”

During the talk and workshops Henck will introduce the audience to the ‘bubble model’ and participants will learn to apply this to their own situation.

Public sessions are scheduled for the following locations and times:

  • Invercargill, Tuesday, 22 September 2020, 6th floor Kelvin Hotel, two sessions: 2-4pm and again at 6.30-8.30pm.
  • Queenstown, Wednesday 21 October (two sessions: 2-4pm and again at 6.30-8.30pm, venue to be confirmed.
  • Te Anau, Friday, 16 October, (venue and time to be confirmed). NOTE: Full day workshop.

To register for the talks in Invercargill and Queenstown, or the Te Anau workshop please email

Information on the locations, times and venues will be further updated on the Southern Health website.