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HealthInfo Canterbury

Helping myself in tough times

If you make mental health a priority, you're less likely to develop symptoms of a mental illness. But even with your best efforts, you can sometimes develop symptoms that suggest your mental health is deteriorating.

Signs that something might not be right

Everyone has psychological symptoms from time to time. But they don't mean you're mentally unwell. What's important is whether you have the symptoms for a long time. Also, how severe they are and how much they affect your day-to-day life and relationships.

We're used to recognising that physical symptoms are warnings signs. We know they tell us that our body needs some attention. We know we might need to make some changes to look after the part of the body that's suffering. But we're not always good at recognising signs that our psychological health needs some attention.

If they're persistent, the following symptoms or behaviours could show that your mental health is starting to suffer:

Distressing emotions may be a sign telling you that your mental wellbeing isn't in good shape. This can be for many reasons, which include:

If you ignore psychological symptoms or minimise them and don't explore their causes, over time you can develop a mental illness like anxiety or depression.

Self-care for mental wellbeing

There are several ways you can help yourself if something isn't right with your mental wellbeing.


Online therapies and education

These courses can encourage you to get help, help you understand your illness, and motivate you with goals.

Getting help with mental wellbeing

There are several types of organisation that can help you with your mental wellbeing.

Emergency mental health care

For emergency mental health care, contact your local mental health crisis team on one of these numbers:

1737, need to talk?

Phone: 1737 or 0800-1737-1737

Txt: 1737


If you feel anxious, down, a bit overwhelmed, or just need someone to talk to, call or txt 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 1737 is staffed by a team of paid counsellors who can talk to you if you have mental health or addiction problems. A counsellor will work with you to develop a care plan. This could include referring you to another service, giving you additional counselling or giving you information and support.

General practice team

If you need to find a general practice team, you can search on this map.

Counsellor or therapist

You can find a counsellor, therapist or psychiatrist in the Family Services Directory.

Community support

There are many community organisations that can provide different types of support. See Community support for mental health.

Specialist support

If you need specialist support, you GP will direct you to the right service. For more information see Canterbury DHB Specialist Mental Health Service.

Getting help for someone else

People often find it hard to notice when their mental wellbeing is suffering. This is especially so if things are bad enough to cause distress but don't affect how they manage their lives.

Not everyone can recognise their own mental or emotional distress. The people around them may see the changes first.

The areas that often suffer first are:

Life balance may also be affected. This can affect sleep, diet, exercise and the use of substances. When these important areas of life are affected, the problems can get worse.

Supporting your friend, family member or partner is very important. They may say they don't want your help, or they may respond positively to your caring concern. Be prepared for a varied response.

Encourage them to talk about what's going on and think about ways they can help themselves with their mental wellbeing. Read this information about supporting someone. It's mainly about depression and anxiety, but the principles are the same for mental wellbeing.

Getting help or support if someone I know has a mental illness

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by psychologist, Canterbury DHB Mental Health Services. Last reviewed March 2021.

Page reference: 332597

Review key: HIHMM-332597