Free counselling pilot for 18-25 year olds a step closer

  • Hon Dr David Clark
  • Hon Julie Anne Genter

Health Minister Dr David Clark and Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter are encouraging mental health providers to put forward innovative bids to run a pilot programme to provide free counselling for 18 to 25 year olds.

David Clark says kicking off the procurement process for the Integrated Therapies Pilot today represents a significant step towards improving access and availability for a range of psychological therapies.

“We know young people with mild to moderate mental health needs need help.  Three quarters of all lifetime cases of mental illness start by 25 years of age. That underlines the importance of providing support for our young people as soon as possible.

“We need to make a difference to those rangatahi who aren’t currently accessing mental health services for a variety of reasons – because they can’t afford them, the services aren’t appropriate, or because their needs aren’t recognised as severe enough.”

This year’s Budget allocated $10.49 million over three years for the pilot programme, which reflects the Confidence and Supply Agreement between Labour and the Greens.

“Too many of our young people have been left without support when they need it. We need to intervene early to ensure problems don’t become tragedies,” says Julie Anne Genter.

“There’s increasing international evidence that psychological therapies can help improve the mental health of young people.

“There needs to be more information about what works in the New Zealand context, what works for young Māori, young people with disabilities, young Pacific people and young rainbow New Zealanders.

“This pilot can help us gather that information – and at the same time make a difference in the lives of those young people that use its services.”

David Clark says child wellbeing is a priority for this Government - the Integrated Therapies Pilot is just one area where we’re demonstrating our commitment.

“We’re also working hard on the ongoing rollout of the Mana Ake programme in Canterbury and Kaikoura, where another 26 schools are now receiving mental health and wellbeing support from the beginning of term three.”


The procurement process (via will allow the Ministry of Health to identify a provider who will deliver the psychological therapies, as well as determine the geographical location to conduct the pilot and what services will be delivered.

The pilot is an adaptation of the UK Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme which enables a variety of responses based on client need.