New Zealand to offer free mental health support to youths

ASTANA. KAZINFORM - Porirua near New Zealand capital Wellington will be the first community to benefit from a trial of free mental health support, which aims to expand access options and the range of therapies, health officials said on Monday, Xinhua has learned.

The Piki pilot, previously referred to as the Integrated Therapies Pilot, will support 18 to 25 year olds with mild to moderate mental health needs, Health Minister David Clark said in a statement.

"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," Clark said.

Three quarters of all lifetime cases of mental illness are developed by 24 years of age, he said, adding that "by intervening early to support good mental health and wellbeing, we can help prevent small problems becoming major issues."

The Piki pilot will cater to people that might otherwise struggle to get help because they cannot afford it, the services are not appropriate, or because their needs are not recognized, the minister said, adding the initiative aims to strengthen existing services, expand access options and the range of therapies available for this group of young people.

"Trained young people will be able to help other young people through a unique peer support program," Clark said, adding people will be able to access the pilot through self-referral, contact through the government-funded mental health support line 1737, seeking help from district health boards or their general practitioners, school referrals, among others.

The pilot will be evaluated by the University of Otago.

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