Massey University student Shailah Anderson hopes a self-help care package will get people through crucial hours or days.
Anderson, 22, said in a mental health crisis, time could be crucial.
The packages will contain an array of sensory items such as perfume and stress balls, to distract the hands and mind.
Anderson said she had experienced both good and bad mental healthcare and was concerned by delays.
“I’ve found that mental health services often require people to be at a certain level of distress before they step in and that can be dangerous.”
The care package is part of a practical help project through the national Tuia Tangatahi leadership programme run by the Mayors’ Taskforce for Jobs.
The project aligned with her studies and her own experiences with mental health issues and gaps in mental health care.
Anderson also wanted to make it easier for people to connect with the right help.
The Manawatu/Horowhenua Mental Health Directory could be overwhelming at 100 pages, so she hoped to develop an app to match people to the most suitable services to them.
Mental Health Foundation spokeswoman Sophia Graham said while it was not a replacement for talking with professionals, boxes could still help. “Anything that gives people the tools they need to cope in a heightened state of crisis is going to be a good thing.”
People did not stay in high states of distress for long periods and could use things as a distraction to get through. “We know they provide a bit of a distraction, something for the brain to do.”
Even simple things could help people hold on. “You get a care box from someone who cares for you. Knowing someone cares about you is a real boon to your mental health.”
Being based on Anderson’s own experiences gave the idea more credence, Graham said.
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
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.
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.
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).