Half a million mental health sessions

This week, we’ve marked a major milestone in our work on mental health – more than 500,000 sessions delivered through our Access and Choice programme.

This programme, which enables Kiwis to get free mental support at their doctor or health centre, is just one of the ways we’re rebuilding New Zealand’s mental health and addiction system.

Here's a look at our progress so far:

We're taking mental health seriously

We made it clear to New Zealanders that our Government would take mental health seriously, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.

When we took office in 2017, we got straight to work – laying the foundations for a whole new mental health system and in 2019, making the largest mental health investment ever in New Zealand’s history.

It’s a big job but there’s already been huge change and it’s making a real difference for thousands of New Zealanders.

We made it easier for people to get help early, so small issues don’t become big problems

🔴 We’ve put mental health workers into places where people already get support for their healthcare needs, such as GP clinics, kaupapa Maori, Pacific, and youth specific services. More than 500,000 sessions have been delivered since the programme began in 2019, and nearly three million New Zealanders will have access to this mental health care through GP clinics by the end of this year.

🔴 We’re addressing the existing workforce challenges by rolling out a plan to make sure that mental health professionals are there, and ready to help when they’re needed. For example, we’ve funded extra places for registered nurses to specialise in mental health, to make it easier for people to start careers in mental health and addiction. We’ve also increased funding and positions for psychology internships, and, for the first time, counsellors will be able to become accredited to work in publicly funded clinical roles to support the mental wellbeing of New Zealanders.

🔴 We’ve put more mental health and wellbeing support online, on the phone and through smart apps, so people can easily access help when they need it. People can now access support at any time, thanks to our investment in online self-help tools and telehealth services.

🔴 We’re making sure Kiwi kids know it’s OK to ask for help, and that help is there when they need it. Nearly 100,000 secondary school students now have access to nurses who can support their mental wellbeing at school, and the counsellors in schools programme has recently been expanded too. We’re also continuing to roll out mental health and wellbeing supports for younger students through Mana Ake, which is set to benefit 195,000 primary and intermediate aged children across the country.

🔴 We’ve boosted mental health support for university students. Around 80,000 university students have had access to more wellbeing and mental health support, and we’re still expanding these services for students across the country.

🔴 We’re the first Government to provide targeted mental health support right across the country to support Rainbow young people. Thanks to this support, RainbowYOUTH can extend its peer support service nationwide, and InsideOUT can expand its support service to 300 schools.

The next step is fixing mental health services for those people who have the highest needs

With this year’s Budget, we invested $100 million to support those New Zealanders with the highest needs.

🔴 We’re fixing our mental health infrastructure. This includes new mental health facilities in Waikato, Hutt Valley and more, through our Mental Health Infrastructure Programme.

🔴 We’re making sure more New Zealanders have access to acute mental health services, so help is there for people who have the highest needs. Around 1,300 young people will benefit from strengthened acute services with more clinical, peer support and cultural support staff. We’re also delivering better crisis services for Kiwis, through boosts form community crisis teams, co-response teams, and more.

When we took office in 2017, we inherited a mental health system that was broken. After years of the previous Government’s hands-off approach, services and infrastructure were underfunded, the workforce was stretched, and New Zealanders weren’t getting the help they needed.

Turning this around is a big job and we know it won’t happen overnight, but our work to build a whole new mental health system is underway and it’s already making a real difference for thousands of New Zealanders.

If you need help or support, you can call or text 1737 for free, 24 hours a day, to speak to a trained counsellor.

You can also find plenty of resources to support your mental health and wellbeing here

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