Health Minister Dr David Clark and Associate Health Minster Julie Anne Genter have announced that Porirua will be the first community to benefit from a trial of free mental health support.
Piki (previously referred to as the Integrated Therapies Pilot) will support 18 to 25 year olds with mild to moderate mental health needs.
“It’s not always easy for younger people to navigate the challenges they face, or to know where to turn to for help when they need it. Free access to counselling services and other mental health support for 18 to 25 year olds will make a real difference,” David Clark said.
“Three quarters of all lifetime cases of mental illness are developed by 24 years of age. By intervening early to support good mental health and wellbeing we can help prevent small problems becoming major issues.
“The Piki pilot is designed to do just that. It will cater to people that might otherwise struggle to get help because they can’t afford it, the services aren’t appropriate, or because their needs aren’t recognised. The initiative aims to strengthen existing services, expand access options and the range of therapies available for this group of young people.
“This is exactly the sort of people-centred approach recommended by the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry. It reflects the Confidence and Supply Agreement between Labour and the Green Party, and I want to thank the Greens for their commitment and staunch advocacy on this issue,” David Clark said.
The pilot will be rolled out in Wellington, the Hutt Valley and Wairarapa regions and is expected to be in full operation across the three DHB regions by the end of the year.
“Mental health was one of the key issues of the election, and we know that this government has to deliver,” Julie Anne Genter said.
“Piki will be able to help an estimated 10,000 young people with mild to moderate mental health symptoms across the three DHBs, with the ability to scale up if the demand is higher.
“We know early intervention initiatives like this have helped in places like the United Kingdom. However, New Zealand’s population needs tailored solutions that fit our Maori and Pasifika communities.
“Porirua will be a great place for this much needed pilot to go ahead.
“Trained young people will be able to help other young people through a unique peer support programme.
“People will be able to access the pilot through many methods – self-referral, contact through the Government-funded mental health support line 1737, seeking help from DHBs or their GP, school referrals and many others,” Julie Anne Genter said.