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May 8, 2017 | by  | in VUWSA |
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Presidential Address

Last week the campus counselling system rightfully came under the spotlight. It’s no secret that accessing quality mental health services is much harder than it should be in New Zealand.

We hear two conflicting messages about this: if you need help reach out, and if you do reach out we can’t guarantee you’ll get the help you need. This is what I’m really afraid of — what happens when that first message meets the second.

Recently the People’s Mental Health Review was published, a collection of over 500 stories of people’s experiences accessing mental health support. Overwhelmingly this report reflects a strained, underfunded, and broken system.

Barriers to access and extensive wait times were two issues that commonly came through in these stories, and of course are central to the problems our community is facing.

Part of the issue with student counselling is that the service is relied on to do the work of the public system. A complete lack of mental health support in the city means that when in need of a referral to a specialist, or when students graduate, there is no one to actually be referred to, without going to the highly expensive private system.  

We also don’t get any help from the public system to pay for student counselling — students pay for it out of levies. Compare this to the student health service which is 50% government funded. Why are these two types of health treated so differently?

Every single person in this country deserves a functioning and comprehensive mental health system. One that gives you support when you seek it, and has no cap or expectation on how long you might be in need.

As much as we wish it could, a system overhaul won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, we will work hard to ensure the campus counselling service is run in the best way possible — for you and defined by you. Get in touch with us through our anonymous form, or come to our forum to share your views.

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