Mark Mitchell's experiences throughout his life have helped shape his passion to be part of the solution to New Zealand's mental health crisis.
The National MP has been affected in varying capacities physically, emotionally and personally.
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In 1991, working as a police dog handler, he was attacked by a young man with schizophrenia who sliced through his right arm with a samurai sword.
During his time with the force, he saw the huge impact drug addiction has on vulnerable people and its effect on their families.
Mitchell experienced his own pain with the sudden loss of his brother Sean, who had turned to cannabis to alleviate a bipolar diagnosis.
The Auckland-born 51-year-old is opening up about the events that have helped form the outlook on social issues he has today.
His determination to make community-minded change comes as no accident, side-stepping a career in the Air Force despite growing up on Whenuapai and Hobsonville air bases where his father flew P3 Orions.
His maternal grandfather, Frank Gill, an Air Force pilot who flew in the Battle of Britain, went on to be the National MP for East Coast Bays from 1972-1980.
As a Cabinet minister, Gill held positions as Minister of Health, Minister of Immigration, Minister of Defence and Minister of Police under Rob Muldoon's National Government.
Mitchell's dad moved into local body politics, running for the Mayor of Rodney, who his son now represents in Parliament as an MP.
After a few years trying his hand at farming in his late teens, Mitchell conceded to his likely destiny forged growing up around men dedicated to public service.
As a 20-year-old, joining the police appeared the most appealing way to do his part.
Throughout his 14-year career working on the frontline as a dog handler in Auckland, Rotorua, Gisborne and Taupo, he gained a sense he was making a difference.
In the wake of the samurai attack, Mitchell gained a new perspective on how people learn to perceive the world.
The samurai attacker had gone to Rotorua Hospital with the intention of beheading the nursing staff but Mitchell got to the scene before he made it into the ward.
While apprehending the man, the samurai blade bounced off Mitchell's bulletproof vest and severed his right arm. His black German Shepherd, Czar, was stabbed between the shoulders.
Mitchell and Czar were awarded the Police Gold Merit Award for bravery but the experience triggered bouts of depression while coming to grips with his injury. From 23 years old he has not had a pain-free day.
At times it really got him down and although he coped by telling himself there were others worse off, that didn't always work.
He didn't know it at the time, but it was the start of his campaign to treat people battling internal complexities with compassion.
"No one wakes up in the morning asking to be depressed or have some type of mental health condition," he told Newshub. "It's a chemical imbalance and although it's much harder to see physically, it's no different to having a broken arm or leg. It needs treatment to get well."
After the police, Mitchell was deployed to Iraq as part of the Interim Government where he trained the newly formed Iraqi Police service, tactical support units as well as borders and customs police. He helped lead major anti-terrorism and organised crime operations from the Provincial Joint Operations Centre in Basra.
He went on to form his own security and risk management company which focused on protecting critical infrastructure, supply chains and hostage recovery and rescues.
The company provided protective services in more than 100 countries. At this time he was also on the management board of a global logistics company with 30,000 employees around the world.
Upon returning to New Zealand eight years later, he wanted to put to use the business and trade knowledge he had gained while overseas to good use at home.
Mitchell says he had become very interested in the global economic opportunities for New Zealand, which he feels are critically important to our future as a country.
He also wanted to help make sure New Zealand was safer and insulated from the types of terror attacks he had dealt with while overseas. He didn't feel his body would thank him if his return to public service meant running around behind a police dog in the middle of the night.
As his interest in trade and the economy grew, he decided to make the seemingly inevitable move into politics.
He's against the legalisation of marijuana after seeing for years the devastation and havoc it brings to peoples lives. He had to watch the negative impact it had on his younger brother Sean.
Mitchell says Sean, a recreational user of cannabis, could be "the life of the party" or struggle to get out of bed and make it past the letterbox.
"He was on Coast Guard, he'd been in the paper a couple of times for some rescues, he was someone people gravitated to, he was kind and loving and just a really cool guy, I really admired and am proud of him, there was only two years between us," he says.
As much as the family tried to wrap around him, he was on a downward spiral.
"I have not one single doubt in my mind that his cannabis use aggravated and put him completely out of balance and in a much weaker position to battle his mental health condition," Mitchell says.
Mitchell says he suffered a long battle with mental health issues before writing the family a letter and ending his life. He was found dead the next day.
After losing Sean, Mitchell was convinced of the importance to be delivering services available at a community level, rather than working from a centralised top model, feeling let down by the services that were expected to protect him.
Today he works to support the mental health service providers within his own electorate and making sure services are readily available for help when it is needed.
He feels it would be "the worst retrograde step we could ever make as a nation" to legalise loose leaf cannabis in NZ and challenges others to prove how it would reduce harm, and not put more young people in particular at risk.
Mitchell hopes instead that ideas around the importance of chasing a dream or goal are at the forefront of priorities.
As cliche as Mitchell acknowledges it sounds, he says it is vital to be sensitive to one another, be kind to one another and listen.
"Don't judge. Some of these mental health issues are very difficult, they're very complicated, there can be layers and layers behind them.
"Sometimes we don't see what's happening around us, we don't see the signals until all of a sudden someone's gone."