Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says from today a new free 24/7 four digit phone and text number will make it easier for people to connect with mental health and addictions professionals.
“It’s important that we talk about our mental health and wellbeing with our friends and family, but it’s equally as important that there is professional support available when we need it,” says Dr Coleman.
“Need to talk? 1737 is free to call or text from any landline or mobile phone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“It’s a new and easy way to access the existing National Telehealth Services provided through the Alcohol and Drug, Depression, and Gambling Helplines. These helplines will still be accessible through the same phone numbers, but 1737 creates a new front door.
“Research shows that four digit numbers are easier to remember, and that they can attract a wider range of people who may feel other specific lines are not suited to their needs.
“The same trained mental health professionals who currently respond to calls, texts, webchat and emails across the existing National Telehealth Service mental health and addiction helplines will be on hand to support people who call or text 1737.
“In line with international trends, here in New Zealand we’ve also seen an increase in demand for mental health and addiction services in recent years.
“We know that around 47 per cent of New Zealanders will experience a mental health issue during their lifetime – and one in five will meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis in any given year.
“To help address this, the phased implementation of the Early Mental Health Response service continues.
“Once it is fully implemented across the country the Early Mental Health Response service will give NZ Police and Ambulance staff the option to transfer 111 callers who need non-urgent social or psychological support to a 24/7 mental health nursing team for assistance.
“Budget 2016 invested $12 million over four years into the initiative which is currently operating with Police north of Waikato and will be fully implemented by the end of 2017.”
The new 1737 number and the Early Mental Health Response service are part of a much larger work programme focused on modernising our mental health and addiction services.
Budget 2017 committed an extra $224 million over four years into this area, including $124 million in new innovative approaches.
Cabinet will soon consider a new mental health strategy, which will further outline the Government’s new approach.