Home Communities › Stephanie


Stephanie Shen image2

Youth voice reaches United Nations

Until recently, Pakuranga College student, Stephanie Shen, had never experienced mental distress. This year, however, she put a lot of pressure on herself, balancing school with co-curricular activities and personal commitments.

“It took a toll on me mentally and emotionally,” she says. “I found myself experiencing anxiety and feeling depressed and at rock-bottom.”

Luckily Stephanie has strong support, systems at home and at school. Her parents and friends were very supportive and she also has quite an accepting school with a “wonderful team” of school counsellors and youth  workers. It didn’t escape Stephanie’s attention however, that some students were more ignorant about mental illness than others.“They don’t always understand the struggles of an individual experiencing mental distress and use expressions like, ‘stupid, dumb, retard and freak’.”

Raising awareness about youth mental health 

It was this language that Stephanie wanted to capture when she decided to submit a poem to the United Nations campaign for International Youth Day 2014, which had the theme Mental Health Matters. “I was motivated to write a poem that would convey the importance of reducing stigma associated with youth mental health,” Stephanie says. “It was about raising awareness that others should look beyond the illness and look deeper at the person themselves.”

“I also wanted to capture the importance of how personal identity should not be tied to something, such as mental illness, which may only be in our lives temporarily; each of us have the right to live fulfilling lives with enriching memories and achievements.”

Stephanie did not expect her poem to be published, but that is exactly what happened.

When she saw that her poem Who I Am had been shared by the United Nations Youth on Facebook page – and that there were already several hundred likes on it – she was caught off guard. She was even more speechless when she realised her poem was going to be in the publication presented at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. 

Empowering the change

 “It was a huge honour and made me realise how empowering youth contributions can be, and how we can fulfil a role as change makers for the future,” she says.

“I had comments from people from around the world that my poem was beautiful and they were thankful I had written it.” 

Best of all was recognition of her achievement from her parents and teachers. She was also thrilled local youth organisations were sharing her success with their groups, in the hope that youth members would read the poem and understand the importance of youth mental health.

Stephanie would like to reassure her peers that there are people who want to help. “No one should experience mental distress alone, and the more people you are able to talk to about how you are feeling, the sooner you will be on your way to recovery.”

Good reads

LM P1 Mailchip


Take the Load Off

Take the Load Off is an online campaign to reduce mental illness... Read more


Farmers under pressure

Rural stress

A war is raging in the quiet backwaters of rural New Zealand.... Read more

Jarno Noordermeer image6x4 NST credit

Blogging to reduce stigma and discrimination


Sharing the stories of people who have experienced mental illness is a... Read more

pacific mhf 6x4

Reducing stigma in Pacific communities


Combining cognitive behaviour therapy with cultural traditions is a “little bit on... Read more


Interacting with people in mental distress

Kites Trust

What you do as a police officer makes a difference. That is... Read more

Cover image Issue 47

Mental distress on campus


The years spent in tertiary study are supposed to be some of... Read more

Stephen Jason combo

Positive Energy participants speak out

Stephen and Jason

Speaking openly about an experience of mental illness can be a scary... Read more


Fighting the good fight


With twin four-year-olds and a busy work schedule to contend with, Lotto... Read more

Torika Watters2

Beauty queen speaks out


Fijian Torika Watters was just 12 years old when her father, Allan,... Read more

Stephanie Shen crop

Youth voice reaches United Nations


Until recently, Pakuranga College student, Stephanie Shen, had never experienced mental... Read more

Tabby Besley

Anti-discrimination advocate royally acknowledged


Tabby Besley is at the forefront of young people trying to change... Read more


App Helps Young People In Distress


Sarah Moktar has developed an app to help people to understand what... Read more

Taimi Presenting 1

reThiNK-ing youth resources


Based in Auckland, Taimi Allan is responsible for Mind & Body’s reThiNK... Read more

Margaret POD

Tending the POD


Margaret Lockhart couldn’t be happier. As the Mental Health Foundation’s project lead... Read more

Susanne image 1

Pacific models create non-discriminatory environments


Susanne Cummings' journey started almost 20 years ago when she lived through... Read more

Zeal Andrew 2

Student led initiative a growing success


Andrew Sutherland is working on a special project to reduce discrimination towards... Read more

GreenBayEvent image 2

High school students challenge discrimination


Melissa Bridle, from 24-7 YouthWork, wasn’t sure what to expect when she... Read more

Martha Kim 1

Sae Woom Tor Charitable Trust


Martha Kim, chairperson of New Zealand-based Korean mental health and addiction awareness... Read more

Community pexels photo 325521


Five ways to reduce discrimination

Mental illness discrimination has a long, pervasive history.  Many widely held negative... Read more

IMG 1593


Young People Tackle Discrimination Through Art

A new Like Minds, Like Mine project, POD, is helping young people... Read more

tommy an dmani

An interface between mental health and identity

Intersex Trust Aotearoa

People who identify as LGBTI are more likely to be discriminated against... Read more



Human rights at the core of Step Forward

In 1997 Like Minds, Like Mine had the distinction of being one... Read more



Walk a mile in our shoes

Exploring Discrimination Within and Towards Families and Whānau of People Diagnosed with ‘Mental... Read more

Rangi Ruru hi res

Using drama to understand mental illness

Rangi Ruru Girls’ School

Year 13 drama students from Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, Christchurch, put themselves... Read more

Stories of Success cover 6x4


Social inclusion, the key to recovery

Stories of Success is the latest publication the Like Minds, Like Mine... Read more