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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Helping myself in tough times

Te āwhina i ahau anō hei ngā wā taumaha

If you make mental health a priority, you are 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 do not mean you are mentally unwell. What is 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 are 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 is suffering. But we are not always good at recognising signs that our psychological health needs some attention.

If they are 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 is not in good shape. This can be for many reasons, which include:

It is tempting to ignore psychological symptoms or minimise them and not explore their causes. But if you do this, 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 is not right with your mental wellbeing.


Online therapies and education

These courses can encourage you to get help. They can also 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 1737 24 hours a day, 7 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. It might also include giving you more counselling or 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, your general practice team will direct you to the right service. For more information see Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Specialist Mental Health Services.

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 do not 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, eating, exercise and the use of substances. When these important areas of life are affected, the problems can get worse.

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

Encourage them to talk about what is going on. Also, to think about ways they can help themselves with their mental wellbeing. Read this information about supporting someone. It is 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. Last reviewed November 2023.


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Review key: HIHMM-332597