There are three free helplines you can call for support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: call 0800 LIFELINE (0800 543 354) or txt HELP (4357) for any issue, and the suicide crisis helpline 0508 TAUTOKO (0508 828 865). Lifeline also offers sliding scale specialist counselling for parents with children or youth under 17. Fees are calculated at 0.1% of your annual income.
Just A Thought App
Developed by a team of clinicians and researchers from St Vincent’s Hospital and the University of New South Wales, and adapted by The Wise Group, Just A Thought is a free app for all New Zealanders wanting extra support for their wellbeing. The app uses evidence-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help with generalised anxiety, depression, mixed anxiety and depression, social anxiety, staying on track through stressful times and insomnia. Their mixed anxiety and depression and staying on track courses are also available in NZ Sign Language.
New Zealand School of Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine (NZSOA)
Some people find acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine helpful when dealing with physical injuries or mental struggles. The NZSOA offers low-cost public clinics to allow their students to complete practical hours. These clinics are supervised by qualified professionals so you can be sure you’re receiving quality care. The one-hour clinics are $12 per treatment or $36 for six treatments. Bookings are essential and free parking is available.
Work & Income Subsidies
If you’ve been diagnosed with a health condition or disability that’s likely to last at least six months from diagnosis then you may qualify for a weekly allowance of $70.04 to see a counsellor, psychotherapist, creative therapist, drug and alcohol practitioner or psychologist. To apply, there are two forms to complete and you’ll need input from your health practitioner/doctor.
Free call or txt 1737 any time of the day or night to connect with a trained counsellor or peer support worker. This helpline, created by Whakarongorau Aotearoa, can serve you if you’re feeling stressed, down, a bit overwhelmed, out-of-sorts or just need someone to talk to.
If you struggle with anxiety, joining a peer support group may help. Anxiety NZ offers five free adult peer support groups at their St Lukes premise, online via ZOOM or at their Takapuna location. Two of the groups support those who experience social anxiety or social phobia, one is a general peer support group, one is for women with anxiety and one is a gender-inclusive group. Each group is run by one or two trained peer support specialists and helps to free people from self-stigma, normalising the range of feelings and challenges people experience, in a safe, supported and hope-focused environment. There’s also a free 24/7 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389) helpline which you can call at any time of the day or night for instant support.
Dance & Arts Therapy NZ (DTNZ)
If you’re living with sexual abuse-related trauma (whether past or current) you may be eligible for fully funded therapy under the ACC Sensitive Claims service if you have an approved claim. DTNZ offers individual dance movement therapy, individual art therapy, supported assessments and dance movement therapy group services to support you to move forward with your life. Prior dance and/or art experience isn’t necessary.
Trauma-sensitive or trauma-informed yoga is another option if you’re living with sexual abuse-related trauma or a different form of trauma. Body Mind Psychology offers trauma-sensitive yoga, iRest and embodied self-care retreats for women and gender-diverse folk in-person and online. These sessions can be self-funded (and self-referred) or funded by ACC Sensitive Claims. Trauma-sensitive yoga is different from regular yoga because the instructors have received specific training on how to create a safe, supportive and compassionate environment for people living with trauma. There are no physical adjustments or assists in these sessions. Potential outcomes include improved well-being, decreased anxiety and depression, and reduced effects of traumatic experiences or triggers.
Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
EAP Services provide practical assistance to employees when personal or work issues arise that may impact on their ability to do their job or affect their well-being. Usually, this takes the form of a short course of counselling, either in-person, online, or via video call, phone call or web chat. If you’re feeling stressed, depressed, anxious, are being bullied, are struggling to control your anger, are experiencing hard times in your relationship or family, are grieving, are going through a life transition, or would like help with a wellbeing concern, career planning, budgeting or legal advice you might like to apply for confidential counselling through EAP. This service is free to employees and funded by your employer, provided your employer is aligned with an EAP provider. You can access EAP through your manager or Human Resources team or you can self-refer by calling 0800 327 669.
Xero Assistance Programme (XAP)
Xero is accounting software for small businesses and it has its own mental health support resource called Xero Assistant Programme (XAP). It provides three free and confidential face-to-face, telephone, live chat or online counselling to business owners who subscribe to Xero Starter, Standard or Premium as well as anyone employed in their business and their families. If your counsellor feels you need more sessions, they may be able to apply for an extension for you. People who aren’t on Xero may also be able to access XAP so it’s worth enquiring via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Auckland Women’s Centre
All those who identify as a woman or non-binary can book counselling sessions via Auckland Women’s Centre. These sessions are facilitated by fully qualified, professional supervised counsellors who belong to a professional body. A sliding scale is available for fees based on your annual income and generally ranges from $40 to $80 per hour. Student rates are also available.
Community Alcohol & Drug Services (CADS)
Various locations throughout Tāmaki Makaurau
CADS offer free, confidential services designed to reduce alcohol and drug-related harm so if you’re struggling with an addiction, or are concerned about, or affected by, someone else’s use, you might like to contact their team on 0800 845 1818, or 0900 787 797 if you live outside Tāmaki Makaurau. Their services include support and counselling for young people and the rainbow community, treatment for opioid dependence, an alcohol and drug abstinence programme, and help with detoxing.
In-person and online counselling for the rainbow community. OutLine defines ‘rainbow’ as everyone whose sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics are different from the majority norms, and people who identify with words like takatāpui, lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex, transgender, queer, non-binary or fa’afafine. Their team can offer support in LGBTQI+ affirming counselling, coming out, people questioning their gender identity and/or sexual orientation, support, and information around trans pathways and access to gender-affirming healthcare and social transitioning. Fees range from $80 to $120 depending on your financial situation. Work and Income may help fund these sessions.
Rainbow Youth provides support for queer, gender diverse, takatāpui and intersex young people across Aotearoa. The team provides in-person peer support in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Wellington and Taranaki and email-based support in other regions. They can help with things like accessing safe and stable housing, social transitioning, medical transitioning, understanding your gender and/or sexuality, support with coming out, rainbow-friendly services, and navigating school or your workplace. Rainbow Youth also runs a bunch of social groups.
Youthline specialises in free and affordable services for young people aged 12-24 years. Their support services include counselling, life mentoring, employment/interview skills and advice around topics relating to mind, body and social life after high school. Youthline also has resources for parents and whānau around risk-taking, alcohol, drugs, bullying, education, sex and perspectives on parenting from young people. Get started by free texting 234, free calling 0800 37 66 33 or emailing email@example.com.
Chances are you’ve already heard of Headspace—it’s an app that shot to fame when Emma Watson called it “kind of genius”. Celebrity use aside, over 70 million people use Headspace’s collection of mindfulness meditations, sleep casts for a more restful night’s sleep, movement exercises to strengthen mental and physical wellbeing, music to help you focus, and inspiring stories for a great start to the day. If you’re curious about Headspace you can trial it for free for seven days. If you choose to continue, it costs about $125NZD per year or $25NZD per month if you opt for monthly payments.
The Grief Centre
The Grief Centre provides grief counselling for people living with all forms of loss and grief. Counselling can take place in-person, over the phone or online through Zoom. The team pride themselves on making counselling affordable, finding a rate that will work with each new client—no one is turned away. WINZ-funded counselling may also be available. The Grief Centre also offers free, confidential ACC-funded counselling for clients affected by sexual abuse or violence.
Sometimes when people feel nervous they get a feeling as if they have butterflies in their stomach. This is an example of the connection between the brain and the gut, sometimes referred to as the ‘gut-mind axis’. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects 1 in 7 people worldwide and, thanks to the gut-mind axis, when your digestion is out of whack it can affect how you’re feeling. The current gold standard for treating IBS is the FODMAP diet developed by Monash University but new studies suggest gut-directed hypnotherapy may be just as effective if not more so at helping people self-manage their IBS symptoms. If you’ve been diagnosed with IBS you may like to try the Nerva app. The first seven days are free after which it costs about $110NZD every three months.
Not sure where to from here? Check out 8 things to do if you're feeling down according to a counsellor.
Image credit: Jae Bano.