9 Nov 2017

Jean Balchin: scholarship, science and tackling stigma

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:38 pm on 9 November 2017

Next year, Jean Balchin is off on a scholarship to study at Oxford University.

Jean is not your average scholar – as a child, she moved around the country a lot with her eight younger siblings and was home-schooled for a while.

She talks with Jesse Mulligan about her many interests and why she's no longer ashamed to talk about her mental health struggles.

Jean Balchin

Jean Balchin Photo: Sharron Bennett

At Oxford, Jean will do her doctorate in English literature, focusing on social Darwinism in New Zealand's colonialist literature.

She's also fascinated with science and hopes her article series A History of NZ Science in 25 Objects will eventually become a book.

Earlier this year, Jean wrote a more personal story for the NZ Herald's Break the Silence series on youth suicide.

After losing her younger brother John to suicide a couple of years ago, Jean suffered depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies herself.

She hopes speaking out about her own experience will help to challenge the stigma around talking about mental health and encourage others to seek help.

"Thanks to my friends and my family and my support network i'm still very much alive today … I'm doing really well at the moment, but I guess I'll always have that tendency there. It might resurface. But it's not something I'm afraid of … I used to be ashamed of having anxiety and depression. I was really embarrassed about it and I didn't want to tell anyone I was on medication. But now I simply do not care one bit if people know."

Where to get help:

Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 anytime to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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