Mental Health Check: Tips For Beating Burnout, Depression And The Blues

By James Fyfe and Chris Whitworth

By 2020 the World Heath Organisation estimates depression will be the second biggest cause of health problems and premature death worldwide.

In New Zealand alone 47 percent of the population is expected to suffer from a form of mental disorder during their lifetime, with Maori particularly susceptible.

So is the world getting sadder, or are we just becoming more open about mental health issues?

As New Zealand marks Mental Health Awareness Week[1], 3 News takes a look at four schools of thought around mental wellbeing.

Are NZ men too staunch to ask for help? 

If men want to maintain good mental health, they need to learn to talk – thats the message from Kapiti charity Whirlwind Stories.

Founder Martin Sloman says too many New Zealand men bottle up their emotions until its too late.

Very rarely do we as men get the courage or opportunity to speak about ourselves as emotional human beings, he says.

Men are less proactive in dealing with their emotional issues than woman are.

Mr Sloman treats patients daily in his job as a primary care counsellor, and says the majority are woman. Of the men who do attend, most are in last-resort territory and its harder to treat them.

He says the focus needs to change from dealing with the effects of mental health issues to treating the causes, something that requires men to open up.

Whirlwind Stories, established by Mr Sloman and local Kapiti singer/songwriter Ryan Edwards, has worked since 2010 to spread the message that being not okay is okay.

We all go through emotional ups and downs, says Mr Sloman. If as men we can just accommodate that as being a normal part of living, we can handle it better and then were going to be less likely to try and bottle it all up, internalise it and use negative coping strategies.

Is self-education the key?

Former Split Enz bassist Mike Chunn says he lived with agoraphobia (a form of social anxiety) for almost a decade before realising it was a mental disorder.

Like many people experiencing a mental health issue, he thought he was alone in his suffering. 

I just thought I was mad, he says.

Mr Chunn experienced severe panic attacks whenever he left Auckland, starting from around the age of 22.

It wasnt until he chanced upon a magazine article on the disorder that he realised he suffered from agoraphobia – a condition that affects up to 2 percent of New Zealanders.

Mr Chunn says he had lived in a tranquilised dream state for most of his touring music career, forced to live on a regime of strong drugs to manage his fear.

In the end I gave up and came back to live in Auckland, he says.

Being in a band is one of the most beautiful things in life, but its also one of the most insecure.

He says self education and improved medical knowledge helped him to eventually beat the disorder more than 18 years on, saying one day in Sydney he just felt it go.

Mr Chunn says he eventually learned the disorder was hereditary, something he wished hed known all those years ago.

The susceptibility to it runs in the gene, he says. Theres a weak link in the chain and youve just got to talk about it.

How is technology killing our work/life balance?

Sociology professor Dr Stephen Matthewman says technology is both a blessing and a curse in modern life.

He says its become increasingly more difficult to switch off from work and as a result, our mental health suffers.

Technology intrudes in our lives in very different ways and plays havoc with work/life balance, he says.

Loads of people do work after hours, loads of people check work emails when theyre on their break, so you can see how that can potentially up stress levels and lead to burnout and alienation and lots of things that are associated with depression.

Occupational therapist Kirsty Connell says these workplace stresses can have a negative flow-on effect in other areas of our life.

If we are tense, irritable, tired, not thinking clearly, having trouble concentrating, sleeping poorly, or feeling angry or wound up with work stress, then it makes sense that it will affect family, relationships, and our ability to live the lives we want, she says.

Its about taking the time to slow down and evaluate your lot.

What can physical fitness teach us about mental wellbeing?

Judi Clements, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, says people would benefit from treating their mental health like their physical health.

Most people can probably tell you that eating veggies is better than eating junk food, says Ms Clements. People know the basics [of physical health], but we havent put as much focus on how we have to look after our mental health.

She says New Zealanders need to be more proactive and maintain their mental fitness rather than just getting things fixed.

Ms Clements says attitudes and awareness surrounding mental health have improved greatly in the last 30 years, but there is still a lot to be done.

What were trying to do is encourage people to think that mental health is an important, precious part of each one of us and we need to know how to look after it, what things support it and sustain it, and what things can interfere with it, she says.

You cannot have a life that is on a total even keel, its not the way that human life manifests for any of us.

Ms Clements says there are ups and downs, but its all about dealing with the negatives before they become unbearable.

3 News

For more information about mental health issues:

Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand www.mentalhealth.org.nz [2]

Whirlwind Stories – www.whirlwindstories.com[3]

Donations to help the Whirlwind Stories Charity spread their message can be made to the bank account: 01-0731-0216534-00


  1. ^ Mental Health Awareness Week (www.mentalhealth.org.nz)
  2. ^ http://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/ (www.mentalhealth.org.nz)
  3. ^ http://www.whirlwindstories.com/ (www.whirlwindstories.com)

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  1. Reply

    Health Tips? I am only 5’2, and 130 pounds. I would like to lose some fat and become more toned. Is running a good way to shed fat, or is walking the way to go. Also, anyone with tips on how to trim thighs I will thank you forever.

      • HealthNut
      • October 12, 2012

      Here is what you need to do, if you are serious about losing weight and keeping it off. Eat 6 small meals a day about every 4 hours. Here what that will do for you, your metabolism will increase (i.e. Loose weight) and you will have more engry. If you go on a diet and eat less, your metabolism will slow down and store to fat. That is why diets dont work. Only the size of your fist, carbs (examples:baked potato, pasta, oatmeal, beans, corn, melon, apples, fat free yogurt, whole wheat breads)in one and protien (examples:chicken breast, swordfish, shrimp, turkey breast) in the other. You can also eat vegetables and salads with any meal, they dont have none or little fat). 30min cardo exercise every day. Any of these(examples: walking, jogging, swimming,running, biking, ect), Monday cardo, tues upper body (arms: curls, tricep extensions,pull ups, front press)(abdominals: leg pull crunch, leg raises), (chest: bench press, butterfly, pullover)(shoulders: front press, arm pullover, cross county skier machine)(back:seated row, lat pull downs, back extension)(YOU DONT HAVE TO DO IN ONE DAY, mix it up) wed cardo, thurs lower body (legs: leg pull,leg press, squats, lounges) fri cardo, sat upper. Sunday eat anything you want and dont exercising, you do this on sunday so your body doesnt go into starvation mode. YOU NEED TO TAKE SUNDAY OFF. If you stilck with this you will have a great body. also drink aleast 8oz of water daily! Stay away from Mcdonals, Wendys, ect because there is nothing good for you on the menu’s even the salads are bad (beaon bits, cheeze, dressing, ect) Good Luck 🙂

  2. Reply

    Health Tips? Is it bad for the health when after eating, I immediately lie to sleep?

      • HealthNut
      • October 12, 2012

      Yes it is you should wait at least 2 hours after eating before going to sleep or else the food you just ate won’t burn up! you shouldn’t eat after like 6pm

  3. Reply

    Health Tips And Vitamins I Should Take Being A Growing Teen? Anyone recommend any daily vitamins i should take? please provide the store i can get em at and the price. what it does and all the details please. also any random health tips would be appreciated. thanks.

      • HealthNut
      • October 12, 2012

      A multi vitamin suh as centrum is good. Flaxseed oil capsules are great as well.

  4. Reply

    How Can I Get Healthy? -Health Tips? This year, I made it a point to become healthy. I have lost some weight and got rid of some acne.

    I really want to be healthy, and make sure that I look healthy.

    Can you give me some all over health tips?
    Im a teen girl by the way.

      • HealthNut
      • October 12, 2012


      The best advice I can give you is exercise daily and eat well. Eat at least 5 portions of fruit or vegetables a day. Try to cut out as much sugar and snacks as you can manage. Drink plenty of water. Exercise for about 30 minutes a day, remember this does not have to be running a million miles and lifting 10 ton weights. Walking is an excellent form of exercise and is great because you can walk briskly around shops whilst looking at really cute outfits!

      I hope this helps!

    • Hg
    • October 12, 2012

    Do These Health Tips Actually Work? 1 apple / day – no doctor
    1 lemon / day – no fat
    1 cup of milk / day – no bone problems
    3 ltrs water / day – no diseases…

    Also what are some losing weight health tips?

      • HealthNut
      • October 12, 2012

      No, these health ‘tips’ are actually myths. It’s all very healthy to do that, but no.

      To lose weight, all you can really do is exercise more and eat healthy and try to keep your calories at around 1600 a day. It’s good to drink homemade lemonade that tastes pretty sour and not sweetened very much- it’s good for your metabolism. Tea is good, fruits and vegetables are good. It’s a great time to get active because it’s summer and you’ll sweat more, which is awesome for your body to flush out toxins and such. I like making fruit smoothies and adding spinach or kale (you can’t taste it and it’s so good for your body- not to mention filling). When you snack during the day, only snack on ‘raw’ foods like fruits and vegetables, or maybe a few almonds.

      Good luck!

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