Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross has begun the next chapter of his mission to help reduce the number of Kiwis who take their own lives each year.
The 33-year-old father-of-two has this week launched a podcast focusing on the serious issue of mental health.
Mr Ross experienced a personal mental health crisis late last year after a high-profile falling out with the National Party’s leadership.
He was detained by Police under the Mental Health Act after attempting suicide and received treatment at Middlemore Hospital’s acute mental health unit, Tiaho Mai.
Mr Ross, who returned to full-time work in January, has named his podcast JLR Unfiltered.
In the first episode he talks about what led him to start the podcast, his experience with mental illness, and his views on the Government’s inquiry into mental health and addiction.
Mr Ross also plans to record his discussions with various mental health experts, survivors, and policy makers.
A future podcast episode will give listeners the chance to hear Mr Ross interview his psychiatrist, Dr Hugh Clarkson, about mental illness and what can be done to encourage people who are struggling to ask for help.
Mr Ross says as he was thanking the hospital’s staff after leaving Tiaho Mai last year, one of the nurses suggested he use his experience and platform as an MP to speak up for others.
Launching the podcast is part of his commitment to do just that, he says.
“I’ll use it to try to answer many of the questions Kiwis have about mental health, New Zealand’s mental health system, and how we can all support people who are suffering from these challenges.”
Episode one begins with a personal and detailed account of the day Mr Ross was detained by Police under the Mental Health Act near train tracks in the Waikato.
He says he’s “overwhelmed” by the positive response he’s received from so many people since that night.
“The compassion and kindness out there is incredible. I want to help New Zealanders understand how to help their friends, colleagues, and loved ones with mental health issues.
“When you feel the world is closing in around you and there are only bad options, not knowing you will be treated with empathy, care and love can make it worse.
“I hope people who are suffering in silence can understand they do have a future, and they can come back to a community that values them.”
The podcast episode that features a discussion between Mr Ross and Dr Clarkson will be released soon.
Mr Ross asks his psychiatrist to talk about addressing Mr Ross’s mental health struggles in an effort to help other people identify when someone they know is in distress.
Dr Clarkson says he wishes his patient well with his intention to “draw attention to this complex and tricky area where simple solutions just aren’t to be had”.
“I think it takes some real courage to let people see something of who you really are and [that you’re] looking to produce some positive change.”
To listen to JLR Unfiltered, go online to www.jamileeross.podbean.com.