The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) strongly supports the Government’s expansion and acceleration of frontline mental health services for students across Aotearoa New Zealand.
This will include the expansion of the Piki service that tertiary students in the Wellington region have been able to access for free, as well as the specific programmes at Auckland and Canterbury Universities.
NZUSA believes that despite this investment being overdue, it will come as an enormous relief for students, including those who have experienced mental distress as a result of Covid-19.
This investment into mental health comes after rallying calls from students and students’ associations, including the NZUSA ‘Kei Te Pai Report’ in 2018, which highlighted the concerning rates of mental distress among students, and the ‘Wait Is Over’ protest on Parliament Lawn in 2018. It also aligns with the calls from hundreds of students who completed the NZUSA Covid-19 Survey and revealed that they were experiencing increased mental health issues during the lockdown including anxiety, stress and isolation.
NZUSA President Isabella Lenihan-Ikin says “we are experiencing an epidemic of mental health issues among young people and students in this country. The underinvestment in mental health services has led to many people being denied the help they need.”
“This is an overdue victory for students in Aotearoa New Zealand. Any student can tell you the myriad stressors that come with studying at the tertiary level. Free and accessible mental health services that tailored for students and young people are essential” she says.
Victoria University of Wellington student and Piki peer-supporter Alexander Walker strongly supports this announcement, “I’ve had very personal experiences dealing with mental health struggles during my time at University; a period of our lives filled with unique challenges and stressors. Services like Piki can literally transform lives. I’m so thrilled that rangatahi who are studying across Aotearoa New Zealand will have an opportunity to access the mental health support that they deserve and need.”
“Every person deserves free mental health support and this announcement today will go a long way to addressing the issues that tertiary students face” says NZUSA President Isabella Lenihan-Ikin.