Two Horowhenua sisters were part of a national cry for help to get political party agreement to an inquiry into New Zealand's mental health crisis.

Horowhenua College student Jamie Lynn, 17, had been campaigning for an increase in mental health funding since the loss of her brother-in-law Philip Martin Shanks, who took his own life five months ago.

She launched a Facebook page called Change Mental Health NZ as part of a college project and Yes We Care NZ, a new health funding coalition, got in touch asking Jamie if she would be their local ambassador for its national awareness roadshow of travelling shoes, each representing a Kiwi life lost to suicide last year. Jamie accepted, collecting 606 pairs of shoes that were on display at Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-po on Saturday.

Sunday marked World Suicide Prevention Day and the 606 pairs of shoes were taken to Wellington to be laid on the lawn at Parliament.


Jamie and her sister Kylie Shanks, holding Philip's red band gumboots, stood in the 100-strong crowd that gathered to hear story after story of people who had lost husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons and friends to suicide in New Zealand.

The aim of the campaign is for an independent inquiry into mental health in New Zealand and a suicide prevention target.

Labour leader Jacinta Ardern gave an emotional speech and committed to the inquiry if they were voted in as the new government.

On Monday morning, bereaved families met with other political party representatives in a
conversation Jamie described as "heated".

She said both Act and National were yet to agree to an independent inquiry on the same day the Green Party promised free counselling sessions for everyone under the age of 25, as part of a funding boost of $263 million a year for youth mental health services.

However, Jamie had the opportunity to ask National leader Bill English the question directly when he visited Horowhenua College later that day.

"Is National going to commit to an inquiry into mental health?" she asked.

"We think the best thing to do now about mental health is actually what we are underway doing ... " Mr English said, and did not commit to an enquiry. It was not the answer Jamie said she was hoping for.

Current government mental health initiatives can be found at

Where to get help: If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.


Or if you need to talk to someone else:
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)