World Mental Health Day on October 10 is a reminder to the globe that we must stop sweeping this problem under the rug.

If you were to get up from reading this, fall over and break your arm, what would you do?

A) Go to the doctor to get help (duh?!)
B) Harden up and soldier on.

Unless you are The Rock in Fast and Furious 7, you chose option A. Why then, if you were to wake up tomorrow to yet another day of feeling miserable, alone and unhappy, would you resort to option B?

The global stigma around mental health is going nowhere fast, and in many ways is continuing to gain momentum.

A recent study from across the ditch indicated nearly one in four people felt depression was a sign of personal weakness and would not employ a person with depression. Considering one in seven young Kiwis will experience a major depressive disorder before the age of 24, it might seem that our employment rate isn’t looking too promising.

But why do we feel this way about mental health? After all, the key word is simply health.

We are raised in a society that feels no shame in healing physical sickness, but sickness of the mind? No, no, no. That’s a personal choice. Suck it up and get on with life.

It’s this attitude that has caused current NZ suicide rates to become the worst ever recorded, with young Maori males being the highest demographic. Youthline CEO Steven Bell said on TV One’s Breakfast this week that “numbers are now reaching epidemic proportions. The issue is not that there aren’t enough services, it’s rather the shame in asking for help”.

World Mental Health Day on October 10 is a reminder to the globe that we must stop sweeping this problem under the rug.

Remember: True strength is not keeping your problems disguised until they conquer you, but seeking help so that you may conquer them.

To get an expert view on this common obstacle, I caught up with Janella Purcell. A  Naturopath, nutritionist, TV chef and Lifestream superfoods ambassador, Janella shared her top tips for managing and overcoming mental illness.

What are some of the signs that may indicate someone is depressed?

No desire to engage with other people, sleeping a lot during the day, not answering the phone, watching too much TV and too much screen time in general, eating bad food, a sense of hopelessness.

Once you have a mental illness, are you stuck with it for life?

Not in most cases. Many times it is correctable by including proper nutrition, sound sleep, exercise, and a renewed sense of belonging to ones life.

What is the best way to approach a friend or family member who you think may be suffering from mental illness?

Gently invite them outside to do something with you – with no pressure, that is. Visit them with only the intention to hang out. Keep an eye on them by texting, calling or Facebooking them regularly. See if you can get them to join you in some gentle exercise – in nature.

What is your opinion on today’s ‘technology obsessed’ world? Do you think the excessive screen time among youth is impacting their mental health?

Sure, but it’s not just that – it’s the lack of time outdoors exercising – that is one of the consequences of excessive screen time.

With end-of-year exams coming up, what are some practical ways students can stay focused while keeping stress levels down?

Exercise! Get at least eight hours sleep with a regular sleep and waking time. Keep up your green smoothies so at least you know you’re getting proper nutrition.

Does all depression require medication or are there other practical forms of treatment?

It depends on the level of depression, of course. It’s about making the necessary changes towards a healthier lifestyle: enough sleep, appropriate exercise and of course a good whole foods diet. Mild to moderate depression can be successfully treated by herbal medicine, proper supplementation like Lifestream V-Omega3, a high-strength vegetarian DHA supplement, which I recommend taking daily to help foster and maintain good brain health. Lifestream Natural Magnesium can also assist with getting restful sleep.


The World Health Organisation estimates that by the year 2020, depression will be the second most common cause of ill health and premature death worldwide. How can you help combat this? It can be as easy as lending a hand to a struggling friend, or raising your hand if you’re in need of your own help. Who knows, in five years that statistic could be wrong after all. The power really is in our hand

Ask the expert

What are your three tips for someone who’s in a slump?

#1: Eat well, even if that means at first only adding in a daily green smoothie. Add one teaspoon of Lifestream’s ‘Essential Greens+ to some coconut milk with some frozen fruit.
#2: Try to get outside and do some form of exercise every day, even if this means a slow walk up and down your street, or getting in the pool with a kickboard.
#3: Have a regular sleep and waking time.

What are the main things someone should avoid when struggling with their mental health?

#1. Watching dark TV shows, movies and the news. I recommend a ‘media fast’ to those already suffering with mental health issues
#2. Junk food
#3. Recreational drugs and alcohol
#4. Sugar
#5. Isolation

Need to talk, or know somebody who needs help?

These awesome Kiwi organisations that are there for you, whenever you need them.


Freecall: 0800 376 633
Free txt: 234
email: [email protected]
Online chat

The Lowdown

Free txt: 5626

Depression Helpline

Freecall: 0800 111 757


Nationwide 24-hour counselling service
Freecall outside Auckland: 0800 543 354
Within Auckland: 09 5222 999

What’s Up

Freecall: 0800 WHATSUP (0800 942 8787)
They also have a free online chat 7-11pm every day

Anxiety Line

Freecall: 0800 ANXIETY (0800 2694 389)