News and Updates

News and Updates

Stay up to date with the latest Nutters news.

Kyle MacDonald: Is National Right About E-therapy for Mental Health?

Encouraging people who may already feel bereft of human connection to seek solace from a digital programme is like holding Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in a pub.

When National's record on mental health was questioned in the final Leaders Debate before the election, party leader Bill English made the bold claim that e-therapy works as well as face-to-face therapy. But does it? And what is e-therapy anyway?

Sometimes referred to as digital mental health care, e-therapy is any form of psychological intervention that is provided via a digital device. It includes guided video and text based treatment, sort of like an interactive self-help book. In some cases, it is aided by email or chat with professionals, or even video chat with a therapist or counsellor.

So does this work?


Kyle MacDonald: Why You'll Probably Vote for the Wrong Party

However, I've been challenging people I know to confuse themselves. There are a number of great political questionnaires that have been set up for this election that enable you to see which parties your values and beliefs actually line up with

A certain Bulgarian-Maori friend of mine has some wisdom he trots out when people ignore evidence: "Don't confuse me with the facts". Psychologists call it "confirmation bias".

Either way, odds are you're voting for the wrong party. How do you decide who to vote for? Policy; personality; team loyalty; favourite colour?


Kyle MacDonald: What are Political Parties Doing for Mental Health?

On the front lawn of parliament the "Yes We Care" Coalition laid out 606 shoes to represent those lost to suicide in the last year.

It was a year ago when the People's Mental Health Review started to collect stories from people who had direct experience of the growing mental health crisis in New Zealand.

We wanted to give voice to those who weren't being heard, as the calls for action grew.

Twelve months later we are now having a national conversation about mental health on an unprecedented scale. And mental health is squarely - smack bang - in the middle of the election agenda.


Kyle MacDonald: Where Mental Health Stigmas are Still Rife

"Do we still have a problem with stigma towards those with mental illness in NZ?"

I wonder what most of you think of now when I say "mental health". Depression? Maybe anxiety? We've done a great job at making knowledge about the most common mental health struggles more public, and more okay to talk about.

But what about the more "severe" problems? What do people understand about psychosis, bipolar disorder, chronic and complex post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders or severe addictions?


Kyle MacDonald: Why Are People so Easily Offended These Days?

"People seem to get offended more easily these days, why is that?"

Is it true that people are more easily offended? Is it political correctness gone mad? Has anyone asked how pigs feel about makeup?

What does it mean to be offended by something, and how do we know when we are? Loosely put, it's a feeling. To be offended is to be that particular mix of hurt and angry where we feel that ourselves, someone, or something we care about has been attacked or put down.



Kyle MacDonald: Will Teaching Resilience in our Schools Work?

Teaching resilience without addressing the massive social problems we're increasingly facing is like teaching people to swim in response to rising sea levels.

Who wouldn't want to be more resilient? More able to cope with life's up and downs, better able to manage stress, less susceptible to negative emotions, to quickly bounce back from adversity.

On paper resilience training seems like a no-brainer. The current Government certainly seems to think so: it's made a resilience training in schools one of its (election bribe) mental health pilot programmes.


Kyle MacDonald: Don't Punish Beneficiaries, Reward Them

If punishing those who are struggling to care for their families is the Kiwi way, then it's time to change the Kiwi way, says Kyle MacDonald following Metiria Turei's resignation.

Behavioural reinforcement can be a dry topic. Which is why my favourite book on the topic is called "Don't Shoot the Dog." It points out the problem with punishment: the end point - when, for instance, training a dog - is to shoot the dog. No more bad behaviour, but also, problematically, no more dog.

The author also makes the bold claim that cats are also trainable, which I'm not so sure about.


Kyle MacDonald: Do Politics Bring out the Worst in you?

When we're passionate about an idea simple disagreement can feel like a personal attack.

Therapy has always been interested in the myriad ways we can fool ourselves as human beings. We can all provide endless self-justifications for why we act the way we do, even when we're acting badly. It's completely normal, even desirable, as it leaves us feeling like we're in control. It's an important cornerstone of our sense of mental wellbeing.

It's mostly untrue, which is why we fool ourselves.

We all behave inconsistently in ways that, when we stop to think about it - really think about it - can be incomprehensible even to ourselves.


Kyle MacDonald: Why do People Hate the Poor?

I doubt many would believe their success was down to blind luck, or simple good fortune.

It's human nature for us to think we're a bit special. Pretty much everyone considers themselves an "above average" driver, even though that's a statistical impossibility.

We also tend to find comfort in believing we're all more or less in charge of our own destiny. It's an idea that's reinforced by so many lessons in our individualised, capitalist culture: Work hard, get a degree, a good job, and you will succeed.

Ask anyone who we might consider "successful" and most will put it down to hard work. But I doubt many would believe their success was down to blind luck, or simple good fortune.


Kyle MacDonald: Why Criminalising Drug Use Doesn't Work

Most people believe drugs are harmful (they are) and that prohibition discourages use and keeps people safe (it doesn't)

Denial is an idea people easily associate with drug use and addiction. After all, it's often part of the problem for people who are addicted to alcohol and other drugs.

But increasingly it appears that the general population is also in denial about the fact that criminalising drug use doesn't work.