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To: Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction

Free Counselling for all Kiwis: Open Submission to the Mental Health Review

We call on the "Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction" to recommend that New Zealand make counselling and talk therapy universally available and FREE to ALL Kiwis.

Sign the Open Submission to support the call for Free Counselling and Talk Therapy for all Kiwis.

Why is this important?

“Depression and anxiety account for more of the misery in Western Societies than physical illness does … So the front line in the fight against misery is the fight against mental illness.”[1]

Counselling and talk therapy is a highly effective treatment for mild to moderate depression and anxiety[2], and in many cases should be the first treatment offered. Yet despite this, it is not widely available and as a result many New Zealanders are not receiving adequate treatment for their mental health difficulties.

Frustration with how hard it was to access talk therapy and counselling was one of the most common concerns expressed in the People’s Mental Health Review[3], with many saying they wanted to access talk therapy but were unable to due to cost and availability.

Providing Free Counselling and Talk Therapy will enable more people to access treatment earlier, and as a result will take pressure off specialised psychiatric services, already overwhelmed. We know that treatment outcomes for all mental health problems are significantly improved by access to treatment earlier.

Improved access to talk therapy and counselling will save money and save lives.

With New Zealand having one of the highest levels of suicide in the OECD, we should be doing everything we can to provide treatment for those struggling with their mental health.

While many will express concern about the envisioned cost of such an approach, a widely cited WHO-led 2016 study[4] showed, ‘Every US$ 1 invested in scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety leads to a return of US$ 4 in better health and ability to work’.

Far from being a “pie in the sky” idea, fully funded counselling and talk therapy has been introduced in other countries, most notably in the UK via the “Increased Access to Psychological Therapies” or “IAPT” initiative. The growing recognition of the impact of the burden of mental health has meant many other nations are looking at how to implement such schemes.

Let’s make Aotearoa a world leader in the provision of mental health care.

Sign the Open Submission to support the call for Free Counselling and Talk Therapy for all Kiwis.

1. Layard, R and Clark, D. “Thrive: the Power of Evidence-Based Psychological Therapies” (2014). Penguin Books

How it will be delivered

The open submission will be delivered to the "Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction" prior to the panel reporting back to the Government with their findings in October, 2018.

For more on the Review see:



2018-07-25 10:25:06 +1200

5,000 signatures reached

2018-05-21 15:03:37 +1200

And published today, weekly NZ Herald Columnist Deborah Hill-Cone in support of the Free Counselling campaign...

2018-05-21 15:02:23 +1200

This column from Kyle MacDonald, published on the Spinoff website, expalins in more detail his vision for free counselling and therapy...

2018-05-15 12:51:46 +1200

Submission organizer Kyle MacDonald was interviewed for this piece on Stuff yesterday...

2018-05-09 20:10:57 +1200

1,000 signatures reached

2018-05-09 11:34:00 +1200

The Mental Health Foundation this morning has publicy backed this campaign, and the need for free counselling! See:

2018-05-08 21:47:41 +1200

500 signatures reached

2018-05-08 15:01:15 +1200

WATCH Kyle interviewed by Duncan Garner this morning on the The AM Show about this campaign...

2018-05-08 12:16:03 +1200

A "Frequently Asked Questions" document about the campaign can be downloaded here:

2018-05-08 09:19:12 +1200

100 signatures reached

2018-05-08 08:03:53 +1200

50 signatures reached

2018-05-08 07:57:31 +1200

25 signatures reached

2018-05-08 07:56:09 +1200

10 signatures reached