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July 30, 2018 | by  | in News |
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Free Counselling for Under 25s

CW: Suicide
On Monday 23 July, the government announced that $10.49 million of the 2018 Budget has been secured for an Integrated Therapies Pilot to provide free counselling for 18-25 year olds. The initiative comes as part of the Green Party’s pledge to fund free counselling for anyone under 25.
Health Minister David Clark says that a procurement process is underway, involving a tender for mental health providers to make a proposal which will help the decisions towards who will receive the services and where this pilot will be run.
Assistant Health Minister Julie Anne Genter stated in May that the pilot will begin in certain areas identified as communities that are “most-at-risk”. The Ministry will not disclose the pilot locations until the tender process is complete, but plan to expand the programme over the next three years. “There are a lot of young people struggling. This government knows it must improve our mental health system to make people’s lives better…… it would be great to get service providers in Wellington interested in putting in a bid,” said Genter.

The pilot will be run closely with the Ministry for Health in order to combat the increasing issue of mental health in New Zealand, especially among young people. In New Zealand, around 75 percent of all lifelong cases of mental illness start before the age of 25, and in 2017 20-24 year olds had the highest number of suicides in the country, highlighting the severity of the problem.
Currently, people can receive free counselling through District Health Boards and some doctors, however there are often long waitlists for these services. There is a free National Telehealth service (call or text 1737) and schools/universities, including Victoria University Student Health and Counselling (+64 4 463 5310) provide free services also.
Clark says child wellbeing is a priority for the government, and this pilot is proof of this commitment.
Pam Thorburn, director of Student Academic Services at Victoria University, said that it was “too soon to provide comment” on whether this initiative will reduce wait times for counselling at Student Health. She added that the University welcomes any initiative that improves the overall health of students.

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