Oranga hinengaro

Mental health

We work with the mental health sector to support New Zealanders to experience positive mental health and wellbeing.

Good mental health and wellbeing are key aspects of a healthy life. However, mental distress is common. About four in five adults (aged 15 years or more) have experienced mental distress either personally or among people they know.

Mental health is not evenly distributed across the population. Māori are 1.5 times more likely to experience mental distress than non-Maori. Pasifika people are 1.0 times more likely to experience mental distress than non-Pasifika.

Through our work in this area we aim to reduce the impact of mental distress on the lives of New Zealanders. We want to create a nation that values, includes and supports people with experience of mental distress, so that all New Zealanders can participate in society and in the everyday life of their whānau/family and communities.

Our mental health work


Depression.org.nz is part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to prevent suicide, along with improving the mental health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders. It works to reduce the impact of depression and anxiety by helping early recognition, appropriate treatment, and recovery.

The objectives of depression.org.nz are to:

  • Strengthen individual, whānau and social factors that protect against depression and anxiety
  • Help whānau, communities and professionals with resources to support people who are experiencing depression and anxiety.

Our work is supported by a marketing approach including digital promotion and print resources.

There is also a telehealth service that offers advice and counselling for people seeking help for themselves or others. Whakarongorau provides this service. Learn more about Whakarongorau telehealth services

Nōku te Ao, Like Minds

Nōku te Ao Like Minds is a collaborative nationwide programme to end prejudice and discrimination against people with experience of mental distress. Nōku te Ao is designed to work with, and for the people most affected by discrimination, including Māori and Pacific communities.

Nōku te Ao, Like Minds is grounded in kaupapa Māori research and evaluation. It is a multi-level programme based on kaupapa Māori principles with national campaigns and communications, media monitoring and community-led social movement activities, education and social action grants.

Nōku te Ao is guided by the Nōku te Ao – Like Minds Rautaki (Strategy) 2021-2026. We provide funding to our partners to support programme delivery, with strategic responsibility held by Te Whatu Ora – National Public Health Service.

The programme works to achieve the following:

  • The people of Aotearoa New Zealand uphold the mana and human rights of people with experience of mental distress through contributing to:
  • Equitable treatment by government and society.
  • Fair structures in organisations.
  • Positive portrayals in public communications.
  • Inclusive behaviours in personal interactions.
  • Influential role-modelling by people with experience of mental distress

Our Partners:

Learn More about Nōku te Ao

The Lowdown - led by rangatahi, for rangatahi.

The Lowdown provides a safe online place for young people to find practical advice, hear the voices of their peers, find a community of support, be guided towards hope and remind them that they are not alone in their experiences. The Lowdown has been undergoing a redevelopment to appeal to its audience better and to keep up with the ever-changing digital landscape.

In 2022, the Lowdown relaunched as a content delivery channel for Māori, Pacific, and rainbow youth. It also included the creation of multi-media content. Our team is engaging with taiohi and other stakeholders to further develop The Lowdown, ensuring taiohi remain central to direction and decision making. 

Visit The Lowdown

Small Steps

Small Steps provides practical tools, resources, and information to support, maintain or improve mental wellbeing. The twelve tools focus on positive thinking and mindfulness to help with feelings of anxiety, stress, or low mood. These tools have been developed in partnership with Clearhead and are designed for people to take small steps to improve wellbeing. Each tool only takes a few minutes.

Visit Small Steps

Mental health of new parents

Becoming a parent can be a hopeful time for change. It can also ramp up a parent’s stress, anxiety or bring up old trauma. Children’s wellbeing depends on adults’ wellbeing. Mental wellbeing for all new parents is a high priority for us. Our First 1,000 Days programme has information about all our work in this area.

Research and evaluation

We undertake a range of activities to inform our programme development and to help us understand our communities.

We monitor key health indicators, behaviours and attitudes of mental health and wellbeing through the Health and Lifestyles Survey. We also host Kupe, a publicly available data explorer which lets you explore New Zealanders' views and experiences across several topics related to health behaviours and attitudes, including wellbeing.

In 2019, we undertook a rapid social innovation project to build understanding about how we might contribute to improving the social, emotional and mental wellbeing of mothers in Aotearoa. This report, Mai te whai-ao ki te ao mārama: Coming into the light – Mothers’ experiences of distress and wellbeing during pregnancy and the first year of motherhood, provides insights from a small group of women with lived experience of mental distress.

We also inform and evaluate activities, programmes and initiatives within our mental health work. View our mental health research publications.