Whānau and friends are awesome but sometimes when you’re feeling really bad, you need help from other people, too. The good news is that there are plenty of professionals who can help. But how do you know if this is one of those times?

Think about it this way: the difference between feeling bad for a few days and depression or anxiety is like the difference between a cold and the flu. A cold affects your head, while the flu affects your whole body. Much the same, low mood affects the way you feel, but depression or anxiety affects the way you function. So if you’re not sleeping or eating or if there are other physical symptoms going on, that’s when it could be time to get some extra help.

So you need a professional – who are they? Depression and anxiety can be serious conditions that lots of rangatahi/young people have. But with the right help, you can get get on the road to recovery.

The trick is finding what works for you. And that depends a lot on how severe your depression or anxiety is and how comfortable you are with the different types of support or treatment. You’ll also want to find the approach and person that works for you. So when you first meet with a pro, you can be upfront and ask them, “What can you do for me?”

There’s a whole range of people you can talk to, including:

General Practitioners (GPs) - who you normally see when you’re physically sick, but they’re useful for dealing with mental health problems too.

Psychologists studied psychology at University, and they have specialised training about how your feelings, actions, beliefs, experiences and culture affect the way you live. They’ve learned how to listen and understand people’s emotional and psychological problems, and they’re experts at helping people make changes in their lives that can help them to feel better.

Psychiatrists trained as doctors first, then as specialists in diagnosing and helping people get on top of just the kind of stuff you might be going through. They work in a range of places like hospitals, medical clinics, and community health centres. Like psychologists, they’re great at listening, understanding and offering advice.

Counsellors have training in listening, and can help you understand what’s going on and look at options you can try. Some counsellors have other training too, like Social Work or Nursing or Teaching. They might work in your school or through a community service in your area.

Helplines are free phone lines you can usually call 24/7, and the people on the other end are trained to talk you through what’s happening now and help you get some support moving forward.
Your options include:

  • Youthline: Free, confidential and non-judgmental. Call 0800 37 66 33
  • Depression Helpline: Call 0800 111 757
  • Lifeline: Nationwide 24-hour counselling service – call 0800 543 354
  • What’s Up: Free counselling service for young people, operates 7 days a week from 12-pm to midnight – call 0800 WHATSUP (0800 942 8787). They also have a free online chat 7-11pm every day.

Trained peer supporters are people who have been there – they’ve had mental health problems themselves, then had training in how to give hope and support to other people who are going through the same stuff.

Youth workers understand what young people go through, and they're really easy to talk to. They're also connected to a bunch of other services, so if you need more help from a counsellor, a doctor, or a psychologist, they can get you on the right track.

Okay – so where do you start?
There are lots of search engines and directories out there that exist exactly for this purpose. Here are some good places to start.

  • This page at MentalHealth.org.nz helps explain how to go about finding a GP or mental health professional near you.
  • The Family Services Directory lets you be really specific about who you are, what you’re going through and what you need, then gives you a personalised recommendation with numbers to call for free or places to visit online.
  • If there’s a Youth One Stop Shop (YOSS) in your area, these are also great places to start. These community health centres are just for young people and offer heaps of services, including mental health and counselling. 

Youth Space Whangarei 
Rotovegas Rotorua 
Anamata Café for Youth Health Taupo
Youth Services Trust Whanganui  
Directions Youth Health Centre Hastings and Napier 
Youth One Stop Shop Palmerston North 
Kapiti Youth Support Kapiti Coast 
Vibe Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt
Evolve Wellington 
Korowai Youth Well-being Trust (298) Christchurch 
Number 10 Invercargill 

Your school might also have a health clinic – if so, drop in there and someone will be able to point you in the right direction.