How did you first get involved with Zeal?
I was hooked by the opportunity to lead a national mental health programme in high-schools – the bonus was it was just down the road from my house! I had driven past Zeal West so many times wondering what went on in there!
In my previous jobs I saw huge gaps in the ways young people had been equipped to deal with the hard parts of life, or even to cope with the natural mental and emotional changes that happen as we grow up.
The opportunity to fill some of those gaps was a no-brainer.
What does your typical day at Zeal look like?
These days my whole job revolves around our Online Crisis Intervention project. We have a “stand-up” team meeting every morning to make sure the work we have planned is what needs to happen right now, and to help each other problem solve quickly. And yes, we do stand. There’s also a catchy jingle that Elliot (our executive director) sings to us to get things rolling!
Two moments make any particular day awesome.
Firstly the times I get to sit with my team (with plenty of paper, felts, and post-it’s!) and create kick-ass products and strategies.
Secondly, time to zone out with headphones and music and think deeply about one particular thing – sometimes you just need to let something soak in your brain for a while before the answer comes you know!
What are some epic moments you’ve had during your time at Zeal?
The variety has been the most epic thing – training people, producing a video series, research into social media usage, even creating a whole new crisis intervention model!
Two moments come to mind though:
Facilitating mental health training with 30 teenage guys, which they then took over and lead real, honest conversations about anxiety, stress, body image and masculinity. So Awesome!
The first online conversation that happened in the OCI project with a 15 year old in Australia. We’ve now talked with young people in 45 countries around the world! That’s epic.
What’s some advice you would pass on to someone wanting to make a difference?
If it matters to you, it probably matters to someone else so step forward and give it a go.
Also, we have a quote up in our office which says, “If it were easy, somebody would’ve done it by now”.
What do you do in your spare time?
I’ve got back into reading and hiking in a big way this year, it’s been so great. Also, cooking delicious things. I could happily spend all day in the kitchen!
What bands are you listening to lately?
I was stoked that The Raconteurs had a new release this year, and my high rotation tends to feature bands like Alt-J, Muse, Arctic Monkeys, Black Sabbath and Heart (Who happen to be one of the greatest rock-bands of all time!) In amongst that also tends to be an enormous amount of classical music, particularly opera.
What are some places anyone visiting Auckland should check out?
Te Auaunga (Oakley Creek) waterfall and track is one of central Auckland’s hidden gems, especially the day after a heavy rain.
Piha Beach at any time of year, it’s always spectacular.
The view you get of downtown Auckland and the marina when driving south over the Harbour Bridge – on a sunny day you can’t beat it!
What are you most excited about in your future?
Well, I’m half-way through my training to become a Psychotherapist, so hoping that continues to go well! It’s already added a lot to the work I do at Zeal. Apart from that I can’t wait to see what happens next with the Online Crisis Intervention project. I know whatever it becomes will be rad, and will continue to reach people and places that other things don’t.