NBHD: a No Small Talk review
Meet Neighbourhood – a volunteer organisation run by young kiwis aiming to create a safe
space for empowerment and a place to do good, while addressing the disconnect that’s often felt through online campaigns and social media spaces.
This year, a campaign ran by Neighbourhood aimed to tackle the scary statistics for mental
health in New Zealand, in particular for men.
The social and cultural elements at play which make it hard for our men to speak up have
devastating effects, seen in the 444 men who commited suicide in 2020. This figure was
figure was over three times as high for men then it was for women according to Ministry of
The campaign was called No Small Talk, and comprised of dinner sessions around the
country where people gathered to share kai, stories, and start conversation surrounding men’s mental health.
Neighbourhood organised different speakers to talk to guests at each dinner and offer raw and unfiltered conversation about different lived experiences of struggling with mental health.
Te Aro based arts student and part of the Neighbourhood team in Wellington, Ana-Terinita
Marks was touched by the vulnerability of the speakers.
Ana joined the Neighbourhood team in March this year and said the Wellington dinner was a memorable way to be thrown into the mahi it takes to run a Neighbourhood event.
“I still shed tears thinking about it and get the warm fuzzies.”
Ana said she had followed Neighbourhood’s journey for a while, and so jumped at the chance when an opportunity to join the core team arrived.
“Their online community was what drew my interest, and how they were tackling very big
and vulnerable talking points. It was different from the typical highlight reel you see on
Strathmore Park based software developer, Kelsey Scott spoke at the Wellington dinner.
Kelsey lost his brother to suicide in 2012 and has since been an advocate for speaking up
about mental health.
For Kelsey, growing up in a small country town meant he didn’t feel like there was much
conversation about mental health or help available to those who needed it.
Kelsey said it was really special to have come from that, to having people gathered together
for the united purpose of listening, sharing and learning from each other.
“The overall support in the room was really incredible, and it was awesome how everyone
resonated with the stories”
The Neighbourhood team has wrapped up the No Small Talk and is having a well-deserved
rest before rolling out a new campaign, Coming Home.
Coming Home will look at finding hope after trauma and will explore the process of healing
while connecting individuals together.
Founder and director of Neighbourhood, Auckland medical student Madeline Mason has a
personal connection to the next campaign.
After struggling with sexual assault trauma and depression, Madeline said the idea for
Neighbourhood bloomed when she began speaking to others about what she was going
“I think in a selfish way, my own experiences did create Neighbourhood. But I think it also
allows me to be more connected and empathetic to the kaupapa.”
Madeline created Neighbourhood as a faceless movement making the most of social media
tools, but not using a virtual world to replace human interaction.
It especially serves as a safe space for discussion and support surrounding serious topics and
issues in Aotearoa.
Madeline said she thinks the past few years fuelled by a pandemic and isolation periods have shown the need we have for in person contact.
“Even on a scientific basis you can see the endorphins that are released from human
connection. I think it’s so undervalued in the modern day, when biologically it’s what we
were made to do”.
Neighbourhood’s first campaign, cup of conversation, ran last year. They worked with local
wahine artists to print about 150,000 coffee cups with designs and messages prompting the
coffee drinker to spark conversation about their mental health.
Madeline said that through something as universal as coffee, the goal was to bring the
conversation to the individual instead of them having to actively seek it.
Neighbourhood is an all-inclusive space and Madeline said that this was a huge part in
building a lasting impact in the social space in Aotearoa and driving diversity and youth-led
“When you come from a position of privilege, I think it’s important that you’re working
directly with the groups you want to support. Working on the ground and having a grass roots impact, we want everyone to be heard, respected and valued”.
To get involved and support Neighbourhood’s journey, follow their Instagram or if you want
to directly get in touch just flick them an email.
Madeline said she sees every email which lands in their inbox, and loves to take the time to
read each one and respond.
Neighbourhood links to get involved:
https://www.instagram.com/neighbourhoodnz/?hl=en (neighbourhoodnz on Instagram)
Written by Isabella Cleary