Mental health issues are hugely prevalent within the health professional student cohort, but unfortunately it is still an issue that has lots of social stigma associated with it. It is not talked openly about like physical illnesses are, and so support systems are often a little more hidden and harder to find. WHPSA takes mental health seriously, and want to break down those social barriers which result in people feeling isolated and unable to find help.
To begin this open conversation, we wanted to create this dedicated space for all things mental health. The following is a range of support networks that you may want to familiarise yourself with, either for yourself or someone close to you who you think may be struggling.
Who Can I Talk To?
- Denise is the student counsellor for the Wellington medical, radiation, physio, dietician and postgraduate students. She provides confidential sessions, whether you just need someone to talk to, blow off steam, or need help getting referred for more support. She can help you work through difficult situations such as feelings of stress, feeling like quitting uni, sleep problems, relationship difficulties, upsetting thoughts or feelings, depression, anxiety, grief, thoughts about harming yourself, or anything else you want to discuss.
- Denise has also set up a website page, full of information about her sessions, and other resources you may like to access: http://www.otago.ac.nz/wellington/departments/studentaffairs/otago076779.html
- Sessions are about 40-50 minutes, and currently there is a limit of 4-6 sessions.
- She can be found on level 5(E) of the Ward Support Block, through the double doors of the physiotherapy common room, on Mondays and Thursdays.
- You can also contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann Thornton is the student affairs administrator, and she lives in an office just around the corner from the main reception of the Wellington campus. She’s very approachable, and always up for a chat. She’ll also know a bit about what help you might need and point you in the right direction.
Other Counselling Options
Due to counselling service onsite only being a day and a half a week and demand high, here are some other options to access.
- Primary Health Organisations – check with your GP whether you are eligible for counselling through the PHO. Usually you can access free counselling for up to 6 sessions.
- MPS – Medical Protection Society – if you are a member (free membership for medical students) you can access free counselling with a psychologist. Other health professionals are eligible if they are members – www.medicalprotection.org/newzealand/help-advice/counselling-service
Or call 0800 2255 677 and select option 3. You will then be put through to MPS, and mention the counselling service. They will then send you an authorisation code and a list of eligible psychologists in your area to make an appointment with (for which the cost will be sent to MPS)
- International Students – private counselling can be accessed via your health insurance. Contact Mark Huthwaite for details – email email@example.com.
- Other low cost services
Catholic Social Services – 04 385 8642
The Salvation Army – 04 389 0594
Wesley City Counselling – 04 384 7695
Relationship Services – 0800 RELATE
Women’s Health Collective – 04 499 7709
What if it’s an emergency?
In an emergency, talking to a trained counsellor on the phone can provide immediate relief. Some options include the Suicide Crisis Line and Youthline:
What can I do from the privacy of my room?
There are also many online tools which may be of use to work through your own feelings, or to provide help to a friend or colleague you may be worried about.
- http://www.health.govt.nz/publication/having-suicidal-thoughts (hyperlink)
- http://www.lifeline.org.nz/Suicide-Intervention_2022.aspx (hyperlink)
- Alcohol and Drug Helpline
- Are drugs a problem? Check your usage
- Assert Yourself: Improve your communication skills
- Atareira (support for families and friends of people with mental illness)
- Beyond Blue
- Do you have a positive relationship? Take a quiz
- Hello Sunday Morning
- Like minds
- Mental Health Foundation
- MoodGYM: Cognitive behaviour therapy skills for depression
- NZ Aids Foundation
- Phobic Trust
- Problem Gambling Foundation
- Rainbow Youth
- Smokefree NZ
- Start 2: Live life more creatively
- Stick with the pack
- Spirituality and Practice: A guide to movies, books and e-courses to help explore spirituality
- The Lowdown
- The Tuesday Program: A short online course designed to increase skills to thrive amid life’s challenges
- Via Character: Identify your character strengths
- Wellington Community Law Centre
- Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Foundation (24 hour rape and sexual abuse support)
If you have a smartphone, you may like to try one of these apps, aimed at increasing mindfulness and mental health. This is something you can do in the privacy of your own home, in your own time.
What about other activities?
One fantastic way to maintain a healthy mind is getting involved in a range of activities. The Wellington Health Professional Students’ Association provide lots of opportunities for co-curricular activities, including social sport teams, knitting group, cultural cooking evenings, weekends away tramping or learning about wilderness medicine, and many more. Look out for updates on the Wellington Health Professional Students’ Facebook page!
The Newtown Community Centre has also got some great opportunities to get active and involved, including koha yoga, hula classes, and martial arts. http://www.newtowncommunity.org.nz/weekly-timetable.html