Better mental health starts in schools

While mental health struggles are not new, they are new to young people. This is why we work to deliver mental health education in language they understand, from people they can relate to.

Critical thoughts are a normal part of life

By being vulnerable about our own experiences, students are reassured they’re not alone, and it’s safe to discuss their feelings.

It is about stopping the silent struggle, normalising the conversation, and being honest about the ups and downs of life.

Self-doubt and distress grow over time when we don’t address them. We know supporting and investing in our youth can stop this cycle, and forever change the way New Zealand approaches mental health.

Primary schools

Embark on an adventure with Hope Zoo

Discover the world of emotions with Hope Zoo, a unique online experience for children. In this virtual setting, children explore various emotions, learning how they might manifest and why they can be beneficial, as well as developing awareness of coping techniques.

Hope Zoo serves as a digital guide to feelings, aiding children in identifying and articulating their thoughts. By engaging with Hope Zoo, they acquire essential skills, learning to properly recognise and name their emotions.

Visit Hope Zoo
Myth N°1
Everyone else has it together

In the world of social media where everyone is showing their best selves it is easy for young people to think everyone else has got it together. By being vulnerable and sharing their stories our youth ambassadors show students that self-doubt and overthinking are a universal experience.

Myth N°2
It’s bad to open up, being vulnerable is a weakness

In the dictionary Vulnerability is described as exposing your self to physical or emotional harm. No act of bravery is possible without someone being vulnerable. When our Youth Ambassadors discuss their lived experience, young people can see someone like them bravely expressing their struggles with passion and being heard.

Myth N°3
Mental Health prevention doesn't work

People often confuse ‘intervention’ with ‘prevention’ and our current intervention focused, mental health system is definitely not working. Our prevention centred model doesn’t just work, it’s one of the best ways to address mental health in terms of both results and cost-effectiveness. Our approach to mental health as a country must combine proactive prevention and professional support.

Myth N°4
There is nothing I can do if someone I love has mental health issues

While that is a feeling most of us are familiar with, for people going through mental health distress, their friends and family are crucial in getting them to a better place. Mistakes happen when we try to ‘fix’ the problem by offering unsolicited advice, or worse, we run away for fear of saying the wrong thing. Our resources page has some handy advice on navigating these challenging conversations. Remember your love and support makes all the difference in making a loved one feel valued and cared for.

Myth N°5
Talking about mental health makes things worse

Stopping discussions about mental health doesn’t prevent these issues. Instead, it hides them. Discussing mental health challenges isn’t just the first step in getting help, it’s the first step in fighting the stigma.

Myth N°6
Kids need to be mentally ill before seeing a counsellor

Parents are always asking "how old should my child be, and how big should their problem be before they see a counsellor?" The younger and smaller the problem the better. The sooner we get young people to understand that talking to a health professional about small issues, before they become major issues the better.

Myth N°7
There is no hope for people with mental health problems

Distressed young people, with the right support, can thrive due to developed resilience – a journey we’ve seen across the country.

I AM HOPE School Talks

Frequently Asked Questions

Shouldn't mental health education be left to parents or health professionals?

No. Mental health is a wicked problem, and requires everyone from professionals to the community to create the solution.

Do I Am Hope ambassadors talk about suicide?

No. Our focus is on normalising the inner critic by sharing stories of life’s ups and downs. The key take-aways from the talks are self-doubt and overthinking are a normal part of life but if it gets too much free counselling is available through Gumboot Friday.

How do I Am Hope school talks make a difference?

Our work is proactive – by giving youth the tools they need to combat mental distress, we can be the fence at the top of the cliff instead of the ambulance at the bottom.

Do you provide help and advice to teachers and parents too?

Yes! Historically, we have done workshops involving school staff and family. Mental Health is a community problem and the best outcomes always come from community solutions.

Isn't it too young to be talking to children in primary schools?

No. Research in the field highlights the earlier we begin a health intervention, the better the outcomes. This is especially true for an age group defined by neuroplasticity and impressionability.

What are the steps to register our school?

If you’re interested in bringing us in, please get in touch using the form below and we will reach out to you with next steps.


What young people and school staff say

We have received incredible testimonies from young people and schools who have felt the value that being vulnerable can have.

Mike King you're beyond amazing. As a parent whose child has benefited from I am hope and Gumboot Friday....thank you. Your work means a lot to families like ours

Counselling Client

"Yesterday we had I am Hope ambassador Sammy in to read is TR and Mack the Hopeful Black Dog. She spoke about the importance of sharing your feelings and not letting them build up and explode like a shaken fizzy bottle.  We loved her talk about bullying, resilience and kindness and how to build self esteem. I AM HOPE"

St Joesph’s School

"The I AM HOPE presentation encouraged me to check up on my friends and to take the time to appreciate those around me because you never know the depth of another person’s battles."


“I have realised that I don’t need to have all the knowledge to help someone who’s going through a tough time but instead need to be more aware. You are doing the best you can by being open and making the effort to reach out to the people around you. I have also realised the importance of people sharing their personal stories in opening society’s eyes to the extreme hardships some people face, as these often go unnoticed.”


"The I Am Hope crew were at Little River School today.
I was wowed what you are doing for NZ children and mental health.
Normalizing showing and feeling emotions and feelings.

Little River School

"My students were moved by what was shared, and I think this could be a defining day for many of them.
I wish someone had told me that stuff when I was a kid!"

Teacher at St Thomas school
School Booking

Want us at your school?

To register your interest in the team visiting your school, please complete the registration form below, or email

If you work with high school students, please consider registering your interest in our Thought Score project instead.

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