Home Individuals › Minnie


Minnie Baragwanath

Lessons on being who you are

Minnie Baragwanath is chief executive and creator of the Be. Institute, a social enterprise that inspires and enables a 100 percent accessible society for all people.

Through the mediums of documentary, animation, design and storytelling, Be. is narrating and illustrating a new story of human possibility.

Minnie presented at the Like Minds seminar in April and shares her thoughts on societal barriers and the Like Minds programme.

What are some of the similarities between the work of the Like Minds programme and the Be. Institute?

Fundamentally they are both about changing attitudes. People say that it takes a generation for societal attitudes to change and both programmes are in it for the long haul.

We often use Like Minds as a reference point and tell people what we are doing is similar to what Like Minds is doing – we are both trying to get into minds and hearts of New Zealanders – and people get that.

Another overlap is that the Be. Institute advocates for an accessible world for everyone. Some people might call it ‘inclusion’, as we don’t draw a line to say ‘who is in and who is out’. In a very tangible way, our programmes are similar.

Why do you think it is important to break down barriers and attitudes of exclusion in society?

Categorising people can be very destructive and wasteful of human creativity and of life. One of my pet hates is being labelled or boxed in by someone else’s point of view. It’s so limiting, presumptuous and judgemental. I believe that a sign of maturity in a society is the ability to see someone as a bit of this and a bit of that. If we can hold onto that paradox, we can liberate others and ourselves. On the other hand, paradoxically, sometimes being boxed in is extremely motivating – it can give us something to really push against and result in us achieving more than we even thought possible of ourselves.

Do you think Like Minds aim of reducing stigma and discrimination associated with mental distress is having an impact?

I think Like Minds has done something to New Zealanders that we can’t even measure yet. The messaging has been good for everyone’s mental health by helping us to tap into some of our better qualities. We needed those conversations to improve our psyche – and Like Minds started that dialogue.

Good reads

simon2 resized 2019

Positively bipolar


Simon Davis-Oakley enjoyed his life as a self-employed web designer and programmer... Read more

Magdel Hammond LMLM 2014

A different attitude to illness


Moving to Aotearoa was like shifting to “absolute paradise” for Magdel Hammond.... Read more

Richard anderson 6x4

Schizophrenia is part of my story


Schizophrenia is potentially the most stigmatising of all mental illness diagnoses. Despite... Read more

Minnie Baragwanath

Lessons on being who you are


Minnie Baragwanath is chief executive and creator of the Be. Institute, a... Read more

Hazel Guyan

Beautiful identities don't judge


University of Canterbury graduate, Hazel Guyan, is an inspiring young woman. Read more

Eric Biddington image

Album takes note of stigma


A project that brought together the musical and writing talents of two... Read more

Debbie Siau crop6x4

Debbie's journey to positive energy


When Debbie Siau was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she thought her... Read more

jo ashcroft 2014 marathon

Loving the bipolar label


To those who don’t know her, Jo Ashcroft is the “bipolar lady”... Read more

Lance Elliott

Personal experience inspires hope


Wellingtonian Lance Elliott has lived with schizophrenia for more than 20 years.... Read more


Poets stand against stigma


Rapper and performance poet Chris McMurray is drawing on his personal experiences... Read more

Andrew Serjeant image 1a

Art, stigma and other things


Some people spend all their spare cash on vices. Artist Andrew Sarjeant... Read more

Tamihana 2

Dancing out of the dark


When Kapiti dancer Tamihana Paurini experienced depression, he would not accept stigma... Read more

Shane and Joanna LMLM 2012

Living with someone who has a mental illness

Shane and Joanne

Everyone except their doctor said it couldn’t work, two people with bipolar... Read more

Rugby black and white person sport competition

A brush with mental distress


Pita Alatini says his brush with mental distress after being dropped from... Read more

WW Sarah Gordon image 1

Lifting the barrier for those battling mental illness


Between stints in psychiatric care and hiding her diagnosis from friends, Sarah... Read more


Takatāpui part of the whānau


By speaking up and challenging his own, and others, long held beliefs,... Read more

hand microphone mic hold

Student's speech breaks down barriers


“ARE YOU NUTS??!!! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU??? So you’re CRAZY then!?” So... Read more

Kirsten Wong image 3

Shutting down discrimination 


Being an inaugural Like Minds, Like Mine ‘PODder’ is a very exciting... Read more

Rob image 2

Black comedy fights depression


There are not many people who have the ability to turn a... Read more

HYTMNW RachelRoss

Have you tried, maybe, not worrying?


2015 media grant fellow Rachel Ross was 22 when she became aware... Read more

Caitlin image 2

Thriving, not just surviving


Nineteen-year-old POD participant and Auckland University statistics student, Caitlin Smart, remembers her... Read more

Helena 4

Sharing experience gives others hope


“The advice I would give my younger self is – keep your... Read more

Natalie pexels photo

The Mindful Minute Challenge


Natalie Lanfear has lived with mental distress for ten years, although the... Read more


From China to NZ: A mental health journey

Sue's story

*Sue packed up her family’s life in China more than a decade... Read more

Brightside pexels photo 192997


The benefits of having experienced mental illness

It feels almost flippant to be talking about the benefits of having... Read more

Annie mychillybin100017 86 Small

Discrimination from friends hard to handle


Annie (36) is frustrated with her friends after an episode of mental... Read more

Joan of arc

A cacophony of creativity

Nine hear voices

Almost 600 years ago an illiterate, French peasant girl rose to prominence... Read more

Te Ariki LMLM 2012 cropped

Out of the darkness and into the light

Te Ariki

As the warm sunlight streams in through the window behind Te Ariki,... Read more

Editorial news media image 2


Why the media matters

Research indicates that uninformed media coverage of mental distress can contribute to... Read more