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April 30, 2018 | by  | in Features |
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How to Get Some Help

It can be challenging to know how to access mental health support, but it’s super important to get the help you need. Here’s some things I learnt from my experiences in the mental health system.

Your first port of call is to see a GP. Give them as many details about your situation and mental state as you can. Bring a support person. Call ahead to ask if they offer government funded mental health related appointments in their practice. It’s important to think about if you want a counsellor or psychologist. In my experience, psychs generally do more long term in depth counselling, and counsellors do shorter solution-based work, but most do use cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which targets problematic thought patterns.

If you want counselling, ask your GP about counselling. There are many different options they can support you to access for free, or via WINZ funding.

If you want to try medication for anxiety, depression etc., ask. Not too eager, and let them talk about your options. If you are given meds, check them out on NZ MedSafe to have a read about them. Do not stop taking them unless the MedSafe pamphlet says to do so (generally in cause of allergic reaction or intense suicidal thoughts) — speak with your doctor if you feel the meds are not right for you after three months using them and changing dosages with a doctor’s approval.

Keeping Safe: If you’re feeling at risk for self harm, put in preventive methods to support yourself. This includes throwing away razors etc., or removing medication that could be dangerous for you from easy access. Also letting support people or friends and family in your home know about how you are feeling.  If you are feeling at risk for suicide, living in the lower North Island, call Te Haika immediately on 0800 745 477. Alternatively, go to the Emergency Department, and ask to see the Crisis Resolution Services (CRS). CRS will speak to you about your support systems in place, moving forward and the possibility of time in respite care (mental health care services). In emergencies where a person is causing harm to themselves or others right now, call 111.

General advice: Get some sleep! Sleeping meds have changed the way I experience depression and just life in general so much. Go to bed early and be kind to your mind.

It’s okay to talk about trauma. It’s okay to talk about things you find silly or embarrassing that you’re upset about. It’s cool and good to go to counselling and take meds. It’s okay to not have the answers. It’s good to get help.

The Mental Health Foundation of NZ has a list of helplines including help for parents, family and friends and specialist helplines for refugees and migrants as well as consumer run peer support lines.

– To find a list of queer and trans friendly region based doctors, counselors and support services visit

Cheap and Free Mental Health Services

Counselling and therapy can be out of the price range of the average student. Here’s some ways  you can get help for cheap.


-VUW health and counselling services have a bad reputation, but when used correctly, have much to offer students. Give them a chance to help. Fill in the intake form so they know how best to help you. Book appointments ahead of time. GPs can also give you referrals to University counsellors who can move your appointments forward if you’re lucky. Call:  04 463 5310.

-If you’re at Victoria Uni you can apply for the Hardship Fund and the University can give you money to get counselling. Book an appointment with a student finance advisor on 0800 842 867.

– Ask your GP to see if you’re eligible for Compass Health funded counselling or WINZ funding.

-If you’re female identifying, hit up the Wellington Women’s Health Collective for free counselling (they also do free pregnancy testing). 04 384 7709 or

-Rape Crisis (04-801 8973), Sexual Abuse HELP Wellington (04 801 6655), and MOSAIC (Supporting Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse – 022 419 3416) all offer free or low-cost counselling and support to survivors of sexual abuse.

-ACC Sensitive Claims Unit funds counselling, for life, for anyone who has experienced sexual abuse. Go to to find a counsellor and start the process for assessment and treatment planning.

When seeking out free and low-cost counselling, check that the counsellor you are planning to talk to has attended a training programme (degree or post-graduate degree/diploma), has regular supervision with a clinical supervisor and is registered with a professional association.


-Ask your GP for a referral to the DHB mental health team to see a social worker and then a psychologist (free) they also have an drugs and alcohol addictions team — this is for more serious cases of mental health, generally a last option sort of thing, but still worth looking into

– Victoria Psychology Clinic is cheap-ish, $20 for unwaged and students and $60 for waged clients. 04 463 6400.

-Some GP practices have a psych that comes in weekly who can also asses you for diagnosis etc., and recommend best practice

Phone Lines

If you just need someone to talk to, always remember there are so many text and talk lines out there. They are helpful even just to vent or try and identify your issues and feelings.

Free call or text 1737 anytime for support from a trained counsellor

Safe to Talk (sexual violence) – 0800 044 334 or text 4334
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)
Youthline (for youth) – 0800 376 633 or free text 234
Outline (LGBTQIA+) – 0800 688 5463

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Healthline – 0800 611 116 to talk to a registered nurse

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757

Anxiety New Zealand 0800 269 4389 (0800 ANXIETY)

The Lowdown NZ (for youth) — free text 5626 or visit


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