Print this topic

HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Overview of getting help for a mental health issue

Tirohanga whānui ki te whai āwhina i te raru hauora ā-hinengaro

If you need urgent or emergency mental health care, call your local mental health crisis team. You can also call if you are worried about the mental health of a friend or whānau (family) member.

For Christchurch, phone 0800‑920‑092. For Ashburton, phone 0800‑222‑955 (24 hours, 7 days a week).

General practice

Your general practice team can provide help with your mental health. This can include referring you to other services if needed.

In some practices, you can have a free appointment with a Health Improvement Practitioner (HIP). A HIP is a trained health professional with expertise in counselling and mental health.

If you need to find a general practice, you can use this link.

Brief intervention talking therapies (BIS)

A brief intervention talking therapist (BIS therapist) can help you with mental health issues. BIS therapists are registered mental health professionals. They are from a variety of backgrounds and have had specific training in talking therapy.

There is no charge to see a BIS therapist, but you must first get a referral from a general practice team. For more information, see Brief intervention talking therapies.

Private help

You can find a counsellor through the New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC) or the Family Services Directory. Some counsellors offer funded or subsidised treatment, but you may have to pay part or all of the cost.

Some employers offer employee assistance programmes (EAP). An EAP is a confidential service that your employer pays for. The programme has qualified, registered and experienced professionals. They can help you and your immediate whānau talk through issues. These issues may be affecting your wellbeing or your ability to do your job. Talk to your manager or human resources representative about whether your employer offers an EAP.

You could also go to see a private psychologist or psychiatrist (mental health doctor). If you are not sure whether to see a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist, ask your general practice team. This page tells you what the different types of mental health professionals do.


There are several helplines you can call if you need to talk to someone. Most of them are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed November 2023.


Page reference: 553936

Review key: HIHMI-138165