Want to help the mental health community?

cuppa tea and a book: The Changing Minds waiting room in Auckland. Changing minds are a not-for-profit organisation that help advocate for people dealing with the mental health system (image provided)

Following the 2017 election results people have asked how they can help the mental health community. Organisations like the ones I’ve listed below fill the void while patients slowly climb to the top of the list for DHB care. They provide hope for people with serious mental illnesses who don’t connect with the everyday New Zealander and work to advocate for those who are being treated unfairly within the system. Often these organisations are actually more attractive than DHB psychiatric care because they treat people as an individual rather than a diagnosis.

The past decade has been death by a thousand cuts for such organisations. Many have had to cancel vital programs due to a combination of decreased funding and increased demand. Whether you want to go hard-out and do some suicide prevention training (Lifekeepers) or attend an exhibition of artwork by mental health consumers (Pablos’ annual auction is coming up next month), I hope there’s something in this list for anyone wanting to help.

There are many factors that aggravate mental health issues and donating to a homeless shelter or a youth organisation is just as beneficial. If you have any suggestions please let me know and I will keep this updated. If you are looking for help I wrote a guide to NZ’s mental health system here, which has low-cost counselling services and tips to navigating the maze.


This is a rewarding activity but has the potential to be emotionally taxing. If you don’t want to train in volunteer counselling, drop-in day centres are a good option. They help tackle the isolation of being unemployed, homeless or if someone is simply working part-time or casual hours. Volunteers for these centres help to provide a link with the wider community and it’s easy: you just have a chat, play a game of cards, that’s it. And it means the world.



Youthline noticeboard. Source: Facebook


Upcoming exhibitions from some of the art workshops for people with lived experience of mental health. I love these! The art is so creative and really speaks to me (though I’m biased because I have mental health issues…) AND the money goes back to the people who produced the art!

Wellington’s art exhibition of the year imo
  • Auahatanga (Tufaga Arts Trust): Mangere Arts Centre, 7 October-21 October. Featuring work by artists living in South Auckland, this exhibition pays homage to the need to give emerging artists a space to share their journey to wellness through creativity.
  • Pablos Annual Art Auction: Thursday 26 October, 11 Customhouse Quay, Wellington. Book tickets here: http://pablosart.org.nz/auction
  • Colours of the Wind, Toi Ora Art Trust Exhibition: 31 October -28 November, 6 Putiki St, Grey Lynn, Auckland. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1500379903384425/


Many mental health organisations are only partly funded via government contracts and rely on donations to keep them going. Some are completely independently funded.



Pablos art auction last year. Source: https://www.facebook.com/roargallery/
  • Pablos (similar to Vincents, Pablos was established as a creative response to deinstitutionalisation): https://givealittle.co.nz/org/pablos
  • The French Art Shop is a drop-off point if you have art supplies for Vincents or Pablos. They are at 70 Ghuznee Street and take lightly-used art supplies on an ongoing basis and distribute them accordingly


  • Toi Ora Live Art Trust: provides studio space and tutored workshops and classes in a non-institutional environment. Not just art — music, writing, so many outlets! Donate here: https://givealittle.co.nz/org/toiora
A mural at Toi Ora Art Trust from the young adults programme. Source: Facebook
  • Raeburn house (runs low cost group and individual counselling and offer creative and holistic forms of therapy (like music therapy): http://shop.raeburnhouse.org.nz/donations.html/
  • Changing Minds (provide info, education and systemic advocacy for people experiencing mental distress or addictions issues in the wider Auckland community): http://changingminds.org.nz/donate
  • Arahura Trust: (initially started out as a boarding house in 1971 for men coming out of the asylums. They run supported accommodation to serivce as a bridge between hospitalisation and living independently, they also run the Crossroads Clubhouse which allows members a place to do all sorts of activities: from working in the vegetable garden to running the tea and coffee bar to help with applying for jobs. Members get access to computers and internet, affordable laundry, weekend and evening social activities and produce from the clubhouse garden): https://givealittle.co.nz/org/aracharity
  • West Auckland Living Skills Homes Trust Board (providing houses across West and central Auckland, mobile community support, residential care for older adults, maternal mental health care and more:http://www.walsh.org.nz/75/contact-us/donate.


Lifekeepers is New Zealand’s first home-grown national suicide prevention training programme for ALL people living in New Zealand. Like first-aid training, it gives the skills to recognise and support those at risk of suicide. It’s FREE and for people aged 18 and over. It’s specifically designed for people in the community who are likely to interact with those at risk of suicide (but who aren’t formally trained in suicide prevention): ambulance drivers, sports coaches, church leaders, caregivers etc. Training starts this month. Workshops are listed here: https://www.lifekeepers.nz/workshops