Kiwi woman with mental illness launches U R Jar for fellow sufferers

Ailise Beales is one of the tens of thousands of young New Zealanders with a mental illness.

"I had no reason to be sad, and I think that stops a lot of people from speaking about it," she told Newshub.

Last year, her best friend came to her and shared her own battle with anxiety and depression.

So Ms Beales drew from her experiences to make her friend a jar full of colour-coded ice-block sticks with messages and suggestions on them - "free things you can do inside, free things you can do outside, cheap things you can do inside and outside, songs to listen to, quotes to lift you up, numbers to call".

She's called her container "The U R Jar" - "to remind her that she was amazing, but that wasn't the right word, or special, but that wasn't the right word".

"I just wanted her to know that she was worth everything."

The 22-year-old soon realised the jar's potential to help others.

"There were gaps in the system and people were falling through," Ms Beales explained.

"I thought if more people could have this thing that I made for my best friend, maybe that could act as a net."

People who want a jar simply visit the U R Jar Facebook or Instagram page, fill out a Google Doc about themselves, and for $20 can get a jar of their own.

"Sometimes I get someone who's just so unique that I spend time researching things that might work for them, so it can take anywhere between 20 minutes and hours and hours."

They can be generic, or personalised.

"I don't want someone who's vegan to order a jar and then have me chuck in a suggestion to bake a cake with lots of eggs and milk in it!"

Ms Beales has now raised nearly $4000, with the goal of getting the jars, and her message, nationwide.

Her next focus is getting the jars into university counsellors' offices and delivering talks about the jar and her experiences at schools.

"I'm making these jars, but why don't I also write something and visit schools?"

She says the jars aren't meant to replace doctors or counsellors, but be a back-up when they're not available.

"I hope to get professionals on board to help refine and improve the advice that's in the jars."

She says even if people see her idea and make one themselves, if it helps someone, it'll all be worth it.