POD (Point of Difference) was an incubator programme that supported Kiwi youth to create projects to challenge mental illness discrimination.

POD ran a series of workshops that connected young people with experts and mentors in the arts and social change fields, helping make their creative ideas come alive.

Many of the young people who went through the programme have gone on to make a significant impact in their communities. Lucy McSweeney petitioned for compulsory mental health education in New Zealand schools, which was signed by over 10,000 people, and Natalie Lanfear created a YouTube series to help support young people experiencing mental health issues, with over 700 followers.

Sarikha Paikea facilitates youth empowerment workshops around New Zealand called, “My Voice Matters”, teaching young people about identity, citizenship, networking and the Five Ways to Wellbeing. And just eight months after participating in POD, Azeria D’Souza received an award for her short mental health awareness film at the Inspiring Stories Making a Difference national film competition.

POD was developed by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand in partnership with the Affinity Services Youth Advisory Group and was a Community Partnership Fund project under the Like Minds Like Mine programme.

Read more about what each of the young PODers created by clicking on the stories below.

Zoe Hawke
09 623 4810

Related stories

Shutting down discrimination

Being an inaugural Like Minds, Like Mine ‘PODder’ is a very exciting opportunity according to Kirsten Wong.

Read More

Tending the POD

As the Mental Health Foundation’s project lead for POD, Margaret is flat-tack organising workshops and mentors, checking in with PODders and assessing applications for the next POD incubator.

Read More

Thriving, not just surviving

Nineteen-year-old POD participant and Auckland University statistics student, Caitlin Smart, remembers her parents telling her she was a sensitive child, but her first experience of mental distress came five years ago.

Read More


Sarikha Paikea

Twenty-three-year-old Sarikha Paikea has had it with labels. For most of her 12 years in the mental health system she’s had to deal with one diagnosis after the other.

Read More

Natalie Lanfear

When Natalie Lanfear was housebound due to anxiety and depression she never dreamt she would one day be heading overseas for a conference to advocate for mental health.

Read More


Azeria D’Souza

Twenty-two-year-old Azeria D’Souza has received a national award for her POD project, a short film.

Read More

From POD to the steps of Parliament

One year after Lucy McSweeney took part in the Mental Health Foundation's social change programme POD, she was on the steps of Parliament presenting her petition to the Government.

Read More

Marlon (Marley) Richards

Marlon Richards believes his POD project will create a visual presence and showcase that people are much more than just their mental illness.

Read More

Georgina Dean

Georgina Dean believes she can change the way cities use public spaces to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Read More

Serena Baptist

For 21-year-old Serena Baptist, discovering a creative outlet to express her experience of depression has been a lifeline.

Read More