Interview with Executive Director of Lifeline Aotearoa, Glenda Schnell
Lifeline is one of New Zealand’s helplines for people to txt or call if they are struggling with something in their lives. I had the privilege of going into Lifeline in April and sitting with Glenda Schnell to talk depression, anxiety, stress and how to ask for help. Here are some of the insights she shared with me.
One in five New Zealanders struggle with depression at some point during their lifetime. Depression is having a prolonged sense of sadness and inability to imagine your future. There is much more to depression than just this, but this is just the beginning to understanding it. It got me thinking about the number of friends and family I have and if I was actually paying attention to how they are ‘really’ feeling.
After filming this interview, I was sitting at a family dinner with my cousin. He was intrigued about Lifeline and what Glenda had to say and then he went onto say that as a teenager and throughout his early twenties he had struggled with depression. He explained that while he was currently doing well, during that time he was seeing a therapist and was on anti-depressants. He shared how it was a big secret and he didn’t want the family to know. I was utterly shocked for a number of reasons. Firstly, I had been to birthdays, anniversaries and weddings with him during the years he was struggling with depression and had no idea, I didn’t even think to ask.
Secondly, I was shocked that he felt he had to keep it a secret from our family. He grew up on a farm and it wasn’t the manly thing to do, talk about thoughts, feelings and emotions, you just tough it out and carry on. I started to wonder, what if our family had created an environment that felt safe for him to talk about his struggles, maybe we could have been a support to him during that season in his life. I couldn’t even image how he felt year after year coming to family events and pretending that everything was fine when he was depressed.
After doing this interview with Glenda the amount of people, friends and family that have been sharing their stories with me is astounding. I would love to see more of a culture in New Zealand where we talk about this and don’t wait for one family member to say it’s okay to now share how you ‘really feel’.
Asking for Help
Glenda explained that asking a friend, family member or colleague if they are okay, doesn’t need to be this big scary confronting thing. The response may be ‘everything is fine’ but they may also want someone to talk with. The below are some helpful questions starters that Glenda shared with us to start the conversation with a person you are concerned about.
- What’s going on?
- Is there anything that you want to talk about?
- I’ve noticed a few things and can see you’re looking a little bit down; would you like to talk?
- Is there something that you would like to share? Just to let you know I’m here.
- I’m here and I’m willing to talk with you, is everything okay?
It’s okay not to have all the answers, you aren’t expected to know how to solve someone else’s problems. However, it’s important to have the conversation with someone you are concerned about, build trust and help them go and get professional help.
To watch the full interview with Glenda Schnell – Click Here
Or to get in touch with Lifeline contact on 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)