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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.

No Small Talk in Dunedin

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”

Joe Daymond speaking at the Auckland NST

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.

Cup of conversation campaign in 2021

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: (neighbourhoodnz on Instagram)

Written by Isabella Cleary

George and Aki from Lads Without Labels talking at the Christchurch NST dinner
Wellington NST dinner

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