COF for your mind

In Newsletter Editorial6 MinutesBy Carl KirkbeckOctober 7, 2022

Last week being Mental Health Awareness Week was the opportunity to pause and reflect on the journey that has finally brought us to the point where it is perfectly okay to raise a hand and ask for help.

Over the years those that have suffered mental health issues and looked for assistance were usually met with a blank face and a shrugging of shoulders. Comments like ‘take a healthy dose of Golden Bay Cement mate and harden the f… up’ were commonplace. Fortunately, we have moved on from those archaic machismo-isms, instead now recognising the significant reach the tentacles of mental health have, and how they infiltrate the lives of the sufferer and their close acquaintances.

A concerning characteristic of this affliction is that mental health issues know no boundaries – whether it be the young or the more senior of souls, no one is immune. Case in point is a senior female member of my very own family, someone I have looked to my entire life for guidance and stability, someone I thought was invincible and as solid as rock, how wrong I was.

For years, this lovely lady has selflessly nurtured those around her, offering guidance and comfort whenever and where ever required. She’d always go out of her way to ensure those around her have all they require to succeed and achieve their end goals and aspirations. However, what has become blatantly obvious in recent months is the well disguised internal mental turmoil that has raged uncontrolled within this loving and selfless soul for the best part of 70 years.

My first reaction on finding out the severity of the situation was ‘why did you not put your hand up sooner and ask for help?’ To which the response was ‘you are always so busy, I did not want to disturb you from all that is going on in your life’. This glimmer of insight into her way of thinking was a bombshell moment. To think that she did not want to inflict her issues on those around her because it would upset their busy lives was hard to hear and frustrating to comprehend. It became bluntly obvious that her perceived net worth to those around her, those that loved her most, was virtually zero.

Correcting this self-calculated misperception of value she has of herself has become a pet project of mine, fuelled by a desire to help her truly see the positive impact her efforts have had over the years. Just how much these efforts have sincerely meant to those she holds close is the driving force behind my personal quest to straighten out this misconception. The difficulty is, 70 or so years of learnt behaviour is a tough macadamia to crack.

Unfortunately, there is no known vaccine for mental health issues. The only real antidote is communication. We are reminded of this time and again through all manner of positive publicity campaigns. However what I have come to understand through my own recent journey with our family member, is that we need to also ask the rocks in our life how they are feeling as well. Although on the surface they may exude a noble mana and calm demeanour, 70 years of being told to harden up, and in turn mastering the art of disguising their true feelings of fear and anxiety, can truly throw you off the scent.

At this time, given the global climate, just take a moment to pause and reflect on your own situation as well as those around you. Whether it be your near and dear or your work colleagues, find that time to ask them how they are managing, how they truly feel, and most important of all what can you do to assist. A journey shared is a journey halved.

And remember, age is no boundary for mental health issues. We are all susceptible to its grip, so never let your mana or pride stand in the way of putting your hand up and reaching out for assistance. Along the journey that is life we all need a shoulder to lean on from time to time, there is absolutely no shame in that.

If you or someone you care about are in immediate physical danger to themselves or others, call 111. For more information see

Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email or online chat


Carl Kirkbeck
Field Editor