Aaron Chamberlain

Our Work / Aaron Chamberlain

When Aaron Chamberlain signed up for the Auckland Round the Bays and saw he could support a charity, it was an easy choice to run for the Mental Health Foundation.

Despite having never run an 8km race before or done any fundraising – Aaron's experience supporting his brother, who lives with schizophrenia, motivated him to go outside his comfort zone as well as support a cause whose approach to mental health is aligned with his own.

"Since he was diagnosed, I have learnt so much and gained an insight into those who have a mental illness. I am always proud to support my brother, even if all he wants is a chat," Aaron (26) says.

In with the wrong crowd

During his high school years in south Auckland, Aaron's brother (now 25) made friends with the wrong crowd and began using drugs.

"I think that's something that triggered it. He went into rehab and he wasn't in a good space."

It was during the stay in hospital that a diagnosis of schizophrenia was made.

"It's quite emotional, when he was really skinny [from the drug addiction]... He was in a hospital for a few months," Aaron says.

Aaron's family spent lots of time with his brother while he was in hospital, doing activities together such table tennis or a board game brought from home.

Illness brings family closer

Despite the brothers growing up in different households –Aaron with his grandparents and his brother with their father – the two have become close since the diagnosis.

Aaron's brother now lives in Takanini with their mother where he has his own space and amazing support from peer support workers. He struggles with social gatherings, but still enjoys talking to Aaron.

"He texts me almost every other day. When I don't text back he gets anxious," Aaron says.

Aaron takes his brother to the movies, invites him over to stay the night at his inner city apartment or have dinner and hang out.

"You just don't think about the fact he was doing the hard stuff: don't let what happened get you down. You just say: let's just support you," Aaron says.