Take a walk Through the Maze of New Zealand's mental health journey video

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Through the Maze - Our Mental Health Journey

The last 150 years have seen the evolution of New Zealand's mental health system from big institutions, where people were kept 'out of sight, out of mind', to today's community care model, with an increasing focus on resilience and mental wellness.

Society agreed to a "beautiful vision" when it built the gothic-style asylums, said a former psychiatric hospital medical superintendent. But the system was overloaded, and "that's been the story over and over".

Today, headlines claiming the system is "broken" or "on a knife edge" are frequent, and hard to ignore.

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For the past six months, we've been travelling the country, interviewing those whose lives have intertwined with mental health services, and investigating what needs to change both in terms of service delivery and, more importantly, societal attitudes.

Why attitudes? Because if it's true the system is failing, people told us, then it's an indication that society is also failing.

This story is part of the Stuff project Through the Maze: The evolution of New Zealand's approach to mental health, which was funded by the Frozen Funds Trust and Mental Health Foundation. Explore the full report here.

After her experience in the mental health system, Claire Freeman is speaking out to help change people's perceptions of ...
GEORGE HEARD/FAIRFAX NZ

After her experience in the mental health system, Claire Freeman is speaking out to help change people's perceptions of recovery, and quality of life. She's one of many who contributed personal stories for this project.

WHERE TO GET HELP

Lifeline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 354

Depression Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 111 757

Healthline (open 24/7) - 0800 611 116

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Samaritans (open 24/7) - 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline (open 24/7) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Youthline (open 24/7) - 0800 376 633. You can also text 234 for free between 8am and midnight, or email talk@youthline.co.nz

0800 WHATSUP children's helpline - phone 0800 9428 787 between 1pm and 10pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 10pm on weekends. Online chat is available from 7pm to 10pm every day at www.whatsup.co.nz.

Kidsline (open 24/7) - 0800 543 754. This service is for children aged 5 to 18. Those who ring between 4pm and 9pm on weekdays will speak to a Kidsline buddy. These are specially trained teenage telephone counsellors.

Your local Rural Support Trust - 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)

Alcohol Drug Helpline (open 24/7) - 0800 787 797. You can also text 8691 for free.

For further information, contact the Mental Health Foundation's free Resource and Information Service (09 623 4812).

 - Stuff

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