Talking about mental health

Listening to friends and colleagues without judgement about any mental health issues they might have can help pave the way to their recovery.

Students hanging out together eating ice cream

It can be difficult to broach the subject of mental health with our friends or colleagues when we think they are struggling, but reaching out and listening to people can often help them recognise where they are and what steps they can take to help themselves feel better.

Why do we need to talk about mental health?

A 2018 report on student mental health noted that a portion of students considered giving up on their tertiary studies when they were feeling overwhelmed (28.4%), because of mental illness (20.2%), or because they feared failure (17.3%). Many of the students who took part in the survey said they didn’t have strategies in place to help them deal with depression, stress and anxiety.

Read the survey results

The numbers in this survey are not surprising, considering one in six New Zealand adults is diagnosed with a common mental disorder at some time in their life, and this is often depression or anxiety.

Every month, around eight percent of the adult population will experience psychological distress.

How can we help others?

Supporting your friends or colleagues can often be as simple as taking the following steps.

First of all, make sure you recognise their current state. Ask them how they are, and if their mood seems to have changed, let them know that you have noticed the shift.

When the person shares their feelings, worries, or problems with you, respond by being supportive and taking them seriously. If they don’t want to talk, respect their choice, but assure them that you will be there when they are ready.

Lastly, refer them to support services that may be able to provide further help. For students, this might be the University Health and Counselling Services.

Student Disability Services provide Mental Health Advisors who are there to support students with a diagnosed mental health condition throughout their studies.

Find out more about Mental Health Advisors

For students and staff support is available from:


How you can help yourself

Talk to someone

If you came to this page because you are struggling and you need to talk to someone, free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

Find an event

This year's Mental Health Awareness Week is theme is 'Be kind, take time', a great reminder that we need to slow down and congratulate ourselves on how far we have come, and all we have achieved (and yes, sometimes getting out of bed in the morning is achievement enough!).

Find an event near you.

Are you a staff member?

If you are a member of staff, and are looking to help a colleague, student or yourself, with any issue relating to mental health, please see the staff intranet for more information.