Media guidelines

To give you the confidence and understanding to report on mental illness and mental health issues safely, accurately and respectfully.
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Portrayal of people living with mental illness and mental health issues in Aotearoa.

These guidelines will equip journalists with the confidence and understanding to report on mental illness and mental health issues safely, accurately and respectfully. One in five Kiwis will experience a mental health problem this year, and more than half of us will go through distress or mental illness at some point in our lives.

Journalists hold great power and can influence public opinion about people with mental illness in positive and negative ways. People’s attitudes can reinforce stigma and lead to discrimination, which is a barrier to recovery and being able to live a full life.

The guidelines were created in collaboration with media and mental health consumer representatives, and informed by evidence-based practice.

Download and print the guidelines and checklist.

Media Enquiries

Please contact a communications team member listed below or see our news section for the latest from the MHF:

We can provide:

  • Information about, and contacts for, Mental Health Awareness Week.
  • Spokespeople for interviews and comment who are experts in the field of mental health and wellbeing, including people with experience of mental illness.
  • Information, statistics and data on mental health and wellbeing, suicide and discrimination.
  • Resources, guidance and support for journalists and sub-editors reporting on mental illness.


Please include helplines in your stories

We recommend always promoting these four core helplines with stories about suicide or mental distress so your audience knows who to contact if they need support.

Need to talk?
Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE).

0800 376 633, free text 234 or email or online chat.

0800 726 666.

We have a wider list of helplines that may be appropriate for your article. Please consider adding several, but if you can only include one helpline, please choose 1737.

The law and suicide reporting

The Coroner’s Amendment Act 2016 – What does it mean for New Zealand media?

To help protect vulnerable people there are some restrictions in New Zealand on what can be made public about a suicide or suspected suicide. These are set out in Section 71 of the Coroners Act 2006. The Act was amended in 2016 to clarify the restrictions.

Unless you have an exemption from the chief coroner, you can’t make public:

  • the method or suspected method of the death
  • any detail (like the place of death) that might suggest the method or suspected method of the death
  • a description of the death as a suicide before the coroner has released their findings and stated the death was a suicide (although the death can be described as a suspected suicide before then).

‘Making public’ doesn’t just mean news reports and other media – it includes things like public posts on Facebook too.

Individuals and media may apply to the chief coroner for an exemption to these restrictions. 

Please note: if a death occurred before 22 July 2016, only the person’s name and age is about to be published before the coroner releases their finding. If a coroner finds the person did take their own life, only the person’s name, address, occupation and that their death was a suicide may be published.

Sometimes, the coroner will release more information if it’s in the public interest.

Resources and Links

Resources and Links