Straight Up: Matt Chisholm on mental health, challenging masculinity and choosing honesty

Matt Chisholm. Photo/Charlotte Headley

Over the past 15 years, Matt Chisholm has become one of the country’s most beloved journalists and TV presenters, going from current affairs in the 1News newsroom to fronting mega hits like survivor And the Celebrity Treasure Island.

However, in recent years, Chisholm has begun to open up about the mental health struggles he faced behind the scenes, documenting his journey in his book Jugglerhis documentary, Enough man.

talking on NZ Herald The Straight Up podcast, hosted by Niva Retimanu and Beatrice Faumuina, said he never expected he would become an advocate in this field, but said his decision to open up came in part because of the death of fellow 1News journalist Greg Boyd.

Boyed, who was close friends with both Chisholm and Retimanu, though the latter two didn’t even meet until podcasts, passed away in 2018 after battling depression.

Reitmanu said his death prompted her to be more honest about her mental health journey, which Chisholm agreed with.

“I think about Greg a lot and I think about the responsibility I have now, and you probably feel the same way, that we have a responsibility now to have a lot of these things and we don’t want his death to be in vain.

“You know, I made a living being a very outgoing, happy guy on TV, but I kind of got along with people because I was the ‘Jack the lad’ on TV and then I’d go home and from time to time cry myself to bed or whatever.

“And so we have a responsibility in public roles that we have to own these things and let others know that no one is immune and that everyone has things going, and we always will.”

While he admits it can be difficult to travel the country away from his family and “puke up” his suffering all the time, Chisholm said he knows how beneficial it can be to the people he talks to, and it’s a better use of his platform than selling “Reebok shoes on Instagram.”

Brought up in Otago as the youngest of four boys, Chisholm said it was a very masculine environment that was probably not the best environment for him.

“I embraced it. I got into it. I played my footy, I loved farming, I did all that stuff. But I was also a sensitive guy and I hid that for a long time, and it wasn’t until I got a little older and got to the age that I thought, actually, no, I don’t want to.” To drink three nights a week, and drive myself down to earth that way.”

Now, Chisholm said he “didn’t have much of a heartbeat left,” so he had reached a point in his life where he was choosing to be honest no matter what the cost.

“[Honesty] It cost me jobs. It cost me the strange relationship. But here’s what I think — I’ve come to a point in life, and you think, right, am I being open and honest about this? And I think, yeah, I will, and that’s because it’ll help more people. It’s the right thing to do because even though it may cost me and it may set me back – and I learn that as I go along – it will help more people than it will negatively affect me.”

Matt Chisholm and Bree Tomasiel hosted Celebrity Treasure Island together between 2019 and 2022. Photo/TVNZ
Matt Chisholm and Bree Tomasiel hosted Celebrity Treasure Island together between 2019 and 2022. Photo/TVNZ

One example of this honesty came to light earlier this month, when Chisholm announced the news of being dropped from hosting roles on survivor And the Celebrity Treasure Island. Taking to Instagram at the time, Chisholm wrote that he was offered “narrative control” and said he chose to step down for family reasons, but chose to reveal that he had been let go instead.

Speaking to Straight Up, Chisholm said he enjoyed his time hosting those shows, but initially when confronted survivor He suffered from imposter syndrome and if he was well enough to do these shows, as well as pivoting in learning lines and being isolated from the contestants because he was not allowed to mingle with them.

“At first survivorI didn’t enjoy it, but I taught myself to enjoy it. I taught myself to think, You deserve to be here. You’re good at this. Just look at the sun shining through those trees and say to myself, “This is an amazing opportunity.”

Chisholm said regarding his exclusion, while not wanting to get into his reasons for leaving, reiterated that he can be “very honest” when it comes to work situations.

The news was difficult for Chisholm and his family. He revealed that he didn’t watch the final season because he found it “exciting”, but ended up reading the comments after he announced he wasn’t coming back, and said it left him “very emotional”.

“Maybe I brought a lot more to the table than I ever thought I would, you know? And people got to the fact that I was present and caring about her and giving a lot of myself to her. It was very nice to read that and understand that I brought something to the table.”

Listen to the full podcast above for more from Matt about his early life, his family now, working in the news, and what he learned living in a rural community.

• Live with Niva and Beatrice i heart radioAnd the Apple PodcastAnd the Spotify Or wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes come out on Saturday mornings.

• You can find more New Zealand Herald podcasts at the site or on i heart radio.


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