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HealthInfo Canterbury

Overview of getting help for a mental health issue

If you need urgent or emergency mental health care or if you're worried about the mental health of a friend or family member, call your local mental health crisis team. For Christchurch, phone 0800‑920‑092. For Ashburton, phone 0800‑222‑955 (24 hours, seven days a week).

Otherwise, visit your GP. If necessary, your GP can refer you for more specialised assessment and treatment.

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

1737, need to talk?

Phone: 1737 or 0800-1737-1737

Txt: 1737


If you feel anxious, down, a bit overwhelmed, or just need someone to talk to, call or txt 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 1737 is staffed by a team of paid counsellors who can talk to you if you have mental health or addiction problems. A counsellor will work with you to develop a care plan. This could include referring you to another service, giving you additional counselling or giving you information and support.

Brief intervention counselling service (BIS)

A BIS clinician is someone who can help you deal with mental health issues. BIS clinicians are registered mental health professionals from a variety of backgrounds, who've had specific training as BIS counsellors and coordinators.

There's no charge to see a BIS clinician, but you must first get a referral from a GP. For more information, see Brief intervention counselling service.

Private help

If you don't qualify for funded sessions with a BIS clinician or don't want to wait until a BIS clinician can see you, you can pay to see a private counsellor.

You can find a counsellor through the New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC), the Mental Health Education and Resource Centre (MHERC) or in 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 who can help you and your immediate whānau/family talk through issues that 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.

Depending on your needs, you could also go to see a private psychologist or psychiatrist (mental health doctor). If you aren't sure whether to see a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist, ask your GP. This Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists page tells you what the different types of mental health professionals do.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2020.

Page reference: 553936

Review key: HIHMI-138165