It’s Mental Health Awareness Week. 

So we asked 10 people about the best piece of mental health advice they have ever been given. From noticing something new every day to mentally packing a worry into a suitcase. Here’s what they said: 


Nurse Practitioner

When something is making me feel anxious and I can’t stop thinking about it, and I know that I am sabotaging a good moment. I close my eyes and try to visualise packing this worry into a suitcase and putting it in the car. I tell myself, ‘it’s time to park it’. I can always unpack the suitcase later, but right now I am allowed to enjoy myself.

Ben Mitchell

Web developer

The best advice I’ve been given is don’t let yourself suffer in silence. Find a person or people that you have that you trust and talk to them and they can cheer you up when you are down. It’s super easy to isolate yourself when you are dealing with mental health issues, so it’s always a good reminder to know there are people there. 

You are not on your own no matter how much it feels like you are. 

Anthony Costello

Te Reo Māori student 

Tipakohia tētahi o ōu hoa, tētahi tāne. Kōrero atu ki a ia i ōu whakaaro. He mea mataku, engari, ki au nei e pirangi ana ngā tāne ki te kōrero. Heoi anō ka tatari ngā tāne... ma wai e timata. Whai muri i te timata, kāore e taea e koe te kati i tōna waha. 

Pick one of your male mates. Just talk about what’s on your mind. It’s quite scary at first but I’ve found most guys are actually keen to talk. It’s just we’re all waiting for someone to go first. Once you get guys going they don’t shut up haha.

Marlon Drake

Living Wage Wellington Regional Organiser and student

When I've been feeling real anxious or depressed. It really helps me to stay grounded if I just notice something that I’ve never really noticed before. It could be a tree outside or it could be a bit of a scratch in the wall paper or the sound of a bird. Just taking the time to notice something new every single day really helps me get out of my head. 

Te Aorangi-Kōwhai Morini

Mauri tau (mindfulness) facilitator at The Kindness Institute, a charity which teaches rangatahi mindfulness techniques.

Kaua e whakapono ki tāu e whakaaro nei.

I ngā o wā o te ahotea ka whakawāteahia e au i au anō hei uiui i ōku whakaaro, nā konā kare tau tōku wairua, ā, ka kitea hoki e au i te kauhanga nui, i te pikitia whānui

Don’t believe all of your thoughts.

In stressful times I set aside time for myself to question my thoughts. Through this I’m able to ease my spirit and I'm able to see the bigger picture in things.

Give yourself time to question your thoughts, to see if they are real or not. If you’re just making stories up, stop over thinking whānau. Kia Ora. 

In this episode of Mānawa Maiea te Atawhai, our new mindful series, Te Aorangi guides us through mauri tau in te reo Māori.

Anna McConnell

Health science student

The thing that has helped me most with dealing with anxiety and panic attacks is, instead of trying to convince myself that the worst case scenario won’t happen, I make a plan for the worst case scenario. Then giving it a go seems a lot less scary and it gives you an opportunity to learn that worst case scenarios don’t usually happen.

Jaistone Finau

National President at Tauira Pasifika, advocacy group for Pasifika tertiary students

You can’t help anyone else, if you don’t help yourself. And I guess, how that helped me, in the space where I do work in terms of advocacy and student politics. You can’t go advocating for students and helping out other students if you haven’t taken the time to actually look after yourself. To advocate for yourself and make sure that you are well looked after in terms of your mental wellbeing as well as your physical wellbeing. 

Christine Russell

Youth mentor and facilitator at The Kindness Institute

The best mental health advice I’ve ever been given is to literally treat myself as I would a good friend. If I experience something that is so difficult, then I comfort myself as I would a good friend who has experienced something similar. I think the practice of self compassion is key to maintaining a healthy and happy hauora. 

You can catch Christine teaching yoga in this episode of Mānawa Maiea te Atawhai

Erana Tamati 

Youth development coordinator at The Kindness Institute

Ehara ko koe i ōu raruraru, ko ngā raru ngā raru kē.  Ki ngā wā ka pā mai te pōuri, ka puta koe.  Kaua e kawe te taumaha o ngā raru i runga i a koe, ko koe tō ake tangata.  Ko ngā raru ngā raru kē.

You are not your problems, the problem is the problem.  When you are in a difficult headspace, you will come out of it.  Don’t carry the weight of the problems on you, you are not defined by these.  The problem is the problem.

Kristina Cavit and Dominic Hoey from The Kindness Institute

Kristina Cavit

Founder of The Kindness Institute

Some of the best advice I've been given is not all my thoughts are true. I don't have to believe all of my thoughts. And it's not what happens that causes my pain. It's my thinking about it that does.

So through meditation I observe my thoughts and know that good thoughts are going to come and bad thoughts are going to come. But they are also all going to go. They don’t stick around forever. No pain lasts forever. 

Where to get help:

  • 1737: The nationwide, 24/7 mental health support line. Call or text 1737 to speak to a trained counsellor.
  • Suicide Crisis Line: Free call 0508 TAUTOKO or 0508 828 865. Nationwide 24/7 support line operated by experienced counsellors with advanced suicide prevention training. 
  • Youthline: Free call 0800 376 633, free text 234. Nationwide service focused on supporting young people.
  • OUTLine NZ: Freephone 0800 OUTLINE (0800 688 5463). National service that helps LGBTIQ+ New Zealanders access support, information and a sense of community. 

Check out Mānawa Maiea te Atawhai, our new 10-part series of practical mental wellbeing tools told through a Te Ao Māori worldview with honest kōrero, humour and shared stories. 

Watch the whole series here. 

Mānawa Maiea te Atawhai is created by The Kindness Institute, with funding support from Te Māngai Pāho

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