Meet Jacob

Postgraduate student Jacob Milne has recovered from serious mental illness and offers a message of hope.

Jacob Milne, Fine Arts masters student, holds dog Zac.
Jacob Milne is studying for his masters in Fine Arts from New Plymouth, with Zac as part of his life.

A Fine Arts masters student who has recovered from a mental health crisis in second year wants others to know even serious mental illness can be overcome.

Jacob Milne was in the second year of Fine Arts when he found himself feeling overwhelmed and, in his words, “flipped out”. He started experiencing distressing symptoms, including insomnia and “magical thinking”, which he describes as a form of disability, where you experience delusional thoughts.

Jacob’s art school friends were worried and encouraged him to see a  University doctor, which was followed by admission to hospital then an acute mental health facility.

Initially, Jacob felt wary of the doctors’ advice and medication, but now feels there is false stigma surrounding acute care.

“I was suspicious of it, but then I realised they [doctors] were supporting me. I said I would take the medication and it’s been improving since.”

Since then, Jacob has started postgraduate study, working remotely from New Plymouth.

From early on, a mental health adviser in Student Disability Services has supported Jacob with strategies and negotiating accommodations for exams and course work.

Jacob considers himself recovered now, thanks in part to having the right ongoing support. He continues to have regular monthly appointments with a mental health adviser to talk through any challenges and encourage his use of positive strategies to manage his mental wellbeing. He also has continued support from community mental health services.

After his undergraduate degree, Jacob got involved in Devonport’s community garden, which he found grounding, later moving to Kelmarna community gardens. He now tends a large garden at his mother’s house in New Plymouth.

Making art is also critical to his wellbeing, though he sometimes doubts his abilities.

A circle of encouraging friends from his undergraduate degree and, more recently, church have helped immensely. Plus, Jacob has had recognition in the art world, including participating in the Sydney Contemporary art fair, along with the Auckland Print Studio.

He has taken the current lockdown in his stride, as he was studying remotely anyway. Jacob is currently focused on digital modelling and drawing now while living in New Plymouth with his Mum.

To anyone experiencing severe mental health issues, including psychosis, Jacob would encourage them to hang in there, listen to doctors and themselves, and accept support because things will get better.

Need to talk?

University support services:

Te Papa Maanaki | Campus Care

University Health and Counselling Services

Student Disability Services

Additional services:

Free call or text 1737 for support from a trained counsellor.

Youthline 0800 376 633, free text 234, email: or online chat.

Lifeline 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)

Samaritans 0800 726 666