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.
Kyle MacDonald: Why do I Always Feel Like Everything is My Fault?
"Why do I always feel like everything is always my fault?"
There's a famous scene in the movie Good Will Hunting where the late, great, Robin Williams repeatedly tells Matt Damon's character "It's not your fault" until he breaks down into tears, hugging Robin Williams. Change happens.
Feeling like you're always to blame for what goes wrong in your relationships is common to the experience of many with depression, and it incapacitates people. In the face of bad treatment from others, in the grip of distress, rejection or hurt, it causes us to collapse. Unable to fight, we instead fall into despair.
Kyle MacDonald: Here's What's Really Wrong With Smacking Kids
Before you go rushing off to claim that "yes but there's this one study/expert/example that says it's fine to smack kids", science is about weight of evidence, and putting together a picture over time.
So here we are, in 2017, once more having a debate because some people believe it's a good thing to use physical violence against children. And as if that isn't bad enough, some politicians even see it as a way to grab some votes.
Frankly, I find it morally reprehensible we're still having this conversation, but I also understand there is a big difference between making a mistake as a parent, which most later regret, and arguing for the right to intentionally and deliberately use violence against young people.