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Students welcome hard fought Piki announcement

06 May 2019

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations has welcomed today’s further roll-out of the mental health trial ‘Piki’, which will provide free counselling for youth between 16 and 25 in the greater Wellington region, along with a website and online wellness app ‘melon’. This trial first began in Porirua in February, and this further rollout is the first major step of many towards addressing the youth mental health crisis.

This announcement comes after years of lobbying by students around the country, particularly in 2018 when ‘The Wait is Over’ march occurred, and the NZUSA ‘kei te pai’ report on student mental health was published.

‘The Wellington region is diverse, with large numbers of students studying in a variety of fields that commonly travel from across the country for study, and will act as a strong representative sample of Aotearoa New Zealand. Furthermore, students from Victoria University of Wellington and Massey University both showed moderate to high levels of psychological distress compared with other tertiary institutes, highlighting the need for action in this area’ says James Ranstead, President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations.

Piki is available to all students within the capital and coast DHB area. There will be 17 full-time counsellors employed within the region to serve all 18 – 25 year olds (including students’ from all tertiary providers), with 5 additional full time mental health advocates at Victoria University and Massey University Wellington alone.

A line up of big-names attended and spoke at today’s launch of Piki, including Minister of Health David Clark and Associate Minister of Health of the Green Party Julie Anne Genter.

‘Unfortunately the work of students in pushing this Government to establish Piki wasn’t at the forefront of the announcement, however this is a significant win for students nonetheless’ says the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association Equity Officer Komal Singh.

Piki is the first significant step on the way to fulfilling a pledge in the Green Party's confidence and supply agreement with Labour to provide free counselling for everyone aged 25 years and under.

Initial plans were to run the trial over three years, however it is understood that the Ministry of Health would like to shorten it to two years.

NZUSA is also looking forward to Government’s response to He Ara Oranga, the National Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction. This response will pave the way for mental health action in Aotearoa New Zealand more broadly.


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