Wellington Scoop

Free mental health services for 18 to 25 year olds – first in Porirua, then Wgtn and Hutt Valley

News from NZ Government
Health Minister Dr David Clark and Associate Health Minister 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 who 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.


A mild mental health problem is when a person has a small number of symptoms that have a limited effect on their daily life. A moderate mental health problem is when a person has more symptoms that can make their daily life much more difficult than usual.

Budget 18 set aside $10.49 million over three years for the integrated therapies pilot, now known as Piki (in English Piki means to support another, or to ascend). Tū Ora Compass Health (Tū Ora) will carry out the pilot.

Tū Ora is a Primary Health Organisation (PHO) which provides a wide range of primary care services through 61 General Practice Teams in the 3DHB region. Tū Ora currently provides some mental health programmes in the Wellington Region.

Tū Ora will work with a number of other health care providers throughout the Wellington, Porirua, Kapiti, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa regions to deliver Piki services to youth, including PHO’s, Non-Government Organisation (NGO’s), Vibe and Student Health Centres.

The Ministry of Health received 16 proposals to conduct the pilot before selecting Tū Ora.

Piki will utilise a 90 day improvement and development cycle, commonly referred to as a PDSA cycle. This will allow the pilot to consistently review opportunities for improvement, as well as ensuring it is able to tailor the workforce capacity to demand.

The pilot will be evaluated by the University of Otago.


  1. Manny, 12. February 2019, 7:55

    It should be free for all. If our (social, educational, health, political, economic) systems were not all completely dysfunctional (and ego based) it would be unneeded (except in a very small number of cases). Now our children are “mentally ill” and we are still approaching the problem in a vacuum.

  2. anon, 12. February 2019, 10:08

    By the age of 18-25yrs, neurological pathways are well formed so far better to treat suffering at an earlier age. Schools are now stressful places and we should address that. We should treat kids before it becomes negative habitual thoughts that people identify with.

  3. Henare, 12. February 2019, 10:21

    @Manny it’s like holes in a dike, do you plug the holes or replace the whole dike at the risk of flooding the land and people. The latter takes time and a significant amount of agreement and resource, the former is easier but does not address the issue of an ailing dike. Better to patch the current dike while designing and building a new more efficient and sustainable one.

  4. Manny, 12. February 2019, 12:05

    All this is is about one group getting funding in one location, it will not get mental health service levels back to before the govt’s service cuts.
    People in other areas and age groups will still be without service.

  5. Joise Talofi, 12. February 2019, 14:14

    Henare yeah yeah its much like plugging the holes in a dike with water. But in the case of CCDHB mental health services, the dike has already burst. It’s not early enough, it’s not early intervention. These people, allegedly designing and planning, were told “over half of all lifetime cases of mental illness are developed by 14 years of age. Early engagement and support are crucial to improving outcomes and increasing the chance of recovery.” By 24yrs we have ingrained mind conditioning and by 24 it’s been shown to be resistant to the proposed ineffective treatment of hardly trained volunteers “peer support.” This pilot study is based on errors. Errors of the understanding about what is considered an “early intervention” age coupled with the non understanding of the cause of the mental illness epidemic; as such, it is deeply flawed. The CCDHB ( & its PHOs) were supposed to provide mental health services for the region to all ages without cost. But yeah, at least it’s not more mental health cuts .