Hon Dr David ClarkMinister of Health
The roll out of free mental health and addiction services to 1.5 million New Zealanders is underway with 22 sites
previously in operation and an additional investment of $40m to roll this out to over 100 new sites.
Despite disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, work has continued on the roll out of the Budget 2019 funded
programme and services have continued to be delivered via phone and video conferencing.
“The Government has always been committed to taking mental health seriously with Budget 2019, putting $1.9B aside to
tackle it. 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 because of COVID-19. 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.
“This new approach is the biggest and most positive change to the way we approach mental health in decades. We know
there is huge need in our communities and we know these services will make a real difference.
“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,” David Clark said.
Services are already operating in nine DHB areas, with more to come. By the middle of next year the programme will be
fully rolled out, making support available to around 1.5 million people. Further services will then be rolled out over
the following three years.
“During COVID-19 alert level four, these services have continued to operate by adapting the way they work and have
delivered services via phone or video call,” Health Minister David Clark said.
“Rolling out such an ambitious new service requires an entirely new workforce. We’ve made sure not to lose momentum
during the lockdown, and have adapted the training so that from May it can be delivered virtually.
“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.
“These tools have been brought on-stream quickly to complement a wider package of support such as face-to-face sessions
and the 1737 number,” said David Clark.