New Zealanders stressed by lockdown can get access to free mental health and addiction services in nine district health board areas as the Government pushes forward with plans to make the services available to 1.5 million people.

It comes after the Government last year responded to the mental health inquiry with a massive $1.9 billion package over five years across a range of portfolios including health, education, corrections, justice and housing.

Some mental health and addiction healthcare workers are offering free services on phone and video calls to Kiwis with lockdown stress and anxiety. Photo / 123rf
Some mental health and addiction healthcare workers are offering free services on phone and video calls to Kiwis with lockdown stress and anxiety. Photo / 123rf

That had led the mental health and addiction services to be rolled out at 22 sites already with the Government now releasing an additional $40 million for more than 100 new sites.

"The work that we did in our first Wellbeing Budget means that we have the services in place for people who need them, including those affected by Covid-19," Health Minister David Clark said.


"Many people across New Zealand will be feeling distress or anxiety about the future.

"We want people to know that it's normal to feel this way in times of uncertainty, and that there is free support available for people to talk with a professional."

During the Covid-19 alert level four lockdown, these services had adapted to allow Kiwis to access them from their homes using phone or video calls.

"People using the services are reporting the life-changing effects of being able to see someone quickly - feeling less anxious, reconnecting with loved ones and sleeping better at night," Clark said.

The Government hoped the Budget-funded project would be fully rolled out to 1.5m Kiwis by the middle of next year.

Further services would then be rolled out over the following three years.

"Rolling out such an ambitious new service requires an entirely new workforce," Clark said.

To cope with the lockdown, the Government had reworked its processes so healthcare staff signing up to offer the mental health and addiction services would be able to train and upskill remotely.


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has previously said the project would transform the way people access mental health support but also try to prevent them needing it in the first place.

"This programme sits alongside the other initiatives the Government has announced over the past weeks, which include online information for parents, awareness campaigns, apps, e-therapy and tools to help people maintain their mental wellbeing through this unusual time," Clark said.


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.


LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 ,free text 234 or email or online chat.
NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
SAMARITANS – 0800 726 666.