Free youth mental health pilot expands coverage

  • Hon Dr David Clark
  • Hon Julie Anne Genter

Health Minister Dr David Clark and Associate Health Minster Julie Anne Genter say the expansion of the free youth mental health support pilot Piki means more young people can get the help they need.
Piki launched in Porirua in February and is now also available in the Capital & Coast DHB area, and tertiary institutions throughout the Wellington, Hutt and Wairarapa areas. Piki supports 18 to 25 year olds with mild to moderate mental health needs.
“We know life can sometimes be tough for our young people and many face mental distress. Piki delivers free access to counselling services and other mental health support that can make a real difference,” David Clark said.
“Piki caters to young people who might previously have struggled to find help because they couldn’t afford it, the services weren’t appropriate, or because their needs weren’t recognised.
“Piki understands these people and makes them feel welcome. It can help them get started on improving their mental wellness, without feeling judged.
“Piki has increased the number of its counsellors in the region by 17 FTE with another three to come. The counsellors offer therapy services in youth friendly and appropriate locations.
“We know three quarters of all lifetime cases of mental illness develop by 24 years of age. Piki is all about early intervention and preventing small problems becoming big issues,” David Clark said.
The pilot is expected to be in full operation across the three greater Wellington region DHBs by the end of the year.
“This Government’s continuing to deliver on its promise to make mental health a priority,” Julie Anne Genter said at an event rollout at Victoria University this morning.
“Piki’s going to help up to an estimated 10,000 young people with mild to moderate mental health symptoms across these DHBs.
“Students are a really important part of this age demographic and we heard their voices prior to the 2017 election. While not every 18 to 25 year old will be studying, their ability to get access is a significant step in improving mental health and wellbeing support for this age group.
“I particularly want to recognise the peer support function of Piki, as well as its focus on delivering culturally relevant supports. Piki is real help for some of our young people who would otherwise be struggling.”
People can 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. 

Minister Clark - Julian Robins 021 867 534, 
Minister Genter - Charlotte Gendall 021 822 336,


Piki is delivered by Tū Ora Compass Health PHO and key partners and as of 31 March it has delivered 1326 therapy sessions to 609 young people.

Today’s announcement also marks the rollout of the next two stages of the Piki programme, specifically the use of the Melon wellness app in conjunction with face-to-face therapies, and the Piki self-referral website. This means anyone 18-25 in the region can access help directly through the website.

Piki counsellors will all complete Cognitive Behavioural Therapy training through the University of Otago.

More Information:  

Piki partners:  Tū Ora Compass Health
University of Otago (workforce training and evaluation)
Victoria University of Wellington
Massey University
Te Awakairangi Health Network
National Telehealth Service
Melon Health