Stories create empathy and empathy helps drive change.


The People's Mental Health Review was an innovative and powerful project aimed at improving Aotearoa New Zealand’s public mental health system by letting those within the system share their stories.

Although everyone would hope to live in good mental health, the reality for one in six New Zealand adults is very different – and for them and their families, the expectation that they should be able to get help when they need it is vital.

Unfortunately, there are signs that the public mental health system designed to offer this help is in crisis.

Those most in need are experiencing long waiting times for support; the lack of resources is leading to an increased reliance on the use of isolation as a form of care; and the country is experiencing alarmingly high levels of suicide.

The Ministry of Health has rejected repeated calls for a Government review of the public mental health system, so we decided to run our own. 

The People’s Mental Health Review was designed to allow anyone involved with mental health in New Zealand – from mental health professionals to those with either personal or family experience of the system – to tell their story. We launched it in September 2016 with zero advertising budget, and over the space of three months collected 500 stories.

This website, and the associated People's Mental Health Report are the result of that project.  

What you will find here:

  • An online and downloadable report summarising the key themes raised in more than 500 stories submitted to the People’s Mental Health Review.

  • Four key recommendations for Government based on those themes.

  • An invitation to sign up to an open letter calling on the government to implement our recommendations.

Our hope is that the courage of the 500 people who submitted their stories to this process will be rewarded by seeing their concerns taken seriously, along with their hopes and recommendations for a better future for mental health services in Aotearoa New Zealand.