Milestone of half a million mental health sessions delivered


The Government’s flagship primary mental health and addiction programme Access and Choice has hit the milestone of delivering more than 500,000 sessions to New Zealanders needing mental health support.

Health Minister Andrew Little made the announcement at ADL – Thrive Pae Ora in Cromwell which provides mental wellbeing support services to young people.

“The Government takes mental health and addiction seriously. We’re rolling out free frontline services across the country and despite the disruption of COVID we have delivered more than half a million sessions to date,” Andrew Little said.

“These Access and Choice mental health services have supported nearly 105,000 New Zealanders with mild to moderate mental health needs over the 2021/22 financial year and we continue to scale up provision.

“The Government promised to transform mental health care in Aotearoa and address the lack of free and easily accessible primary mental healthcare services. This programme is filling a void that helps prevent small issues becoming big problems.”

“This Government’s commitment to making mental health services available in places like GPs means the programme is providing easily accessible support that simply didn’t exist a couple of years ago, benefitting thousands of New Zealanders every month.

“We’ve also funded mental health support in primary schools through the Mana Ake Programme, in Universities and Polytechs as well as online, on the phone and through smart apps.

“We’re building a whole new mental health system and just over three years into the five year programme it’s well on track to hit its overall target of supporting 325,000 New Zealanders a year by 2024/25,” Andrew Little said.

Access and Choice services are made up of four streams, Integrated Primary Mental Health and Addiction (IPMHA) which is accessed via a general practice, as well as specific Kaupapa Maori, Pacific and Youth providers.

The programme also recently celebrated another milestone, the creation of its 1000th contracted position .

Te Whatu Ora Southern has delivered nearly 32,000 sessions to around 11,000 people in the past financial year through the Access and Choice programme.

In addition to this milestone other services around Te Whatu Ora Southern kicked off this week including GoodYarn mental health workshops which will run for the next year in Queenstown. These peer-led workshops will help support attendees with knowledge, strategies and skills to help care for themselves and others.

Te Whatu Ora Southern also marked the week by opening a mental health crisis respite care home. The property and its dedicated team of clinical staff and trained mental health support workers will provide adults experiencing acute mental distress with 24-hour residential support.

“It will see an increase in Dunedin’s mental health respite capacity – from 365 bed nights per year to an estimated 1,825 bed nights per year – and aims to free up hospital beds and staff.  “Inpatient hospital services will continue to be available for those who need them,” Andrew Little said.

“I’m pleased to mark these initiatives and milestones during Mental Health Awareness Week and it is great to see so many communities leading and celebrating new local programmes.

“Rebuilding the mental health system is a big job and we’re just three years into the plan but there’s already been a huge change and it’s making a real difference to New Zealanders like those I met here in Cromwell today,” Andrew Little said.