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Collaborative art completed during Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental health and addictions

When life is challenging, there is always someone around to support you and connect your to the right place to access the support or care you need.

Maintaining mental well-being is an important aspect of living well, and managing the stresses of life. Challenges with mental health and addictions are common, and can affect anyone. 

Across the Southern health system are a range of services to support you and your family members through these experiences, whether through short-term assistance, or ongoing care.

You can find a list of services available in the Southern district below. 

If you or someone that you know needs help urgently and could be an serious and immediate danger to themselves or others, please call the Mental Health Emergency Helpline on 0800 46 78 46 (Press 1 for Southland and 2 for Otago Regions) or if the danger is imminent you feel you cannot immediately the manage the situation you can call the Police on 111.

You can free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

Find help now

When should I seek help?

Experiencing emotional distress is very normal, and not everyone requires professional support. Many people can manage their situation with support from friends and family. They may also benefit from some of the many resources available for building resilience and mindfulness.

However, if your concerns are leading to difficulties for you or those around you, please seek additional support.

Some excellent advice on worrying signs to look out for, and additional resources for supporting those in need, can be found at the Mental Health Foundation.


I need help for myself or someone I know - where should I start?

There are many mental health and addictions services available, and as much as possible, we try to make sure that any starting point is the right starting point. The professionals who work across the system are able to point you to the service that is right for you. The most important thing is that you do reach out.

In many cases, good starting points are: 

  • Your GP. Often they know you and your wider situation, and can assist you or refer to you other help.
  • A trusted professional, such as a school counsellor
  • Helplines. You can free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor. There are also a range of other helplines for particular needs, such as Youthline and Gambling Helpline.

Accessing specialist care

In some situations, you may require the support of specialist mental health and addiction services  such as a psychiatrist, nurse or allied health professional at the DHB. Normally, this will involve a referral from your GP or psychologist, via our mental health liaison service, or from Emergency Psychiatric Services.

Everyone's care is different. Our starting point is supporting you to live as normally as possible, with the support of mental health and addictions teams as needed. Some people will also receive additional support, either on short-term or longer-term basis. This can include supported accommodation.

In some circumstances, your care programme may include a stay in an inpatient unit. Normally these admissions are for short periods, to enable an assessment of your condition, and the right treatment plan to be put in place. Mostly these inpatient units are 'open' - although you are expected to let staff know if you are leaving the premises and when you'll be back. Some inpatient units are closed, and you will only be able to leave under certain conditions.

Sometimes individuals may require specialist mental health care - either while remaining in the community or as an inpatient - but do not wish to receive this. An application for compulsory treatment may need to be made under the Mental Health Act 1992 to enable this to take place. More information about this process can be found here. 

COVID new apps

The Ministry of Health recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic may be having an impact on people’s mental health and has put together some practical tips that can help people take care of their mental wellbeing during this time. These include simple actions like staying in contact with other people and sticking to our daily routines. You can find the full list of ideas on the MOH website by searching ‘COVID-19 taking care of your mental wellbeing’.
You might be interested to know that as part of the COVID-19 response, we have launched the following tools:

  • Mentemia is an app developed by former All Black Sir John Kirwan that helps people monitor, manage and improve their mental health.
  • Melon  is an app that provides a health journal, resources and self-awareness tools to help people manage their emotional wellbeing. Melon also has an online community for New Zealanders to connect and support each other and daily webinars for health and wellbeing.
  • Staying on track is an e-therapy course for people experiencing worry and distress, which teaches practical strategies to cope with stress and disruption of day-to-day life due to COVID-19.

While online and digital tools play a key role in supporting mental health and wellbeing, we are also working on expanding telehealth services and ensuring appropriate support services are available as we all cope with moving between different alert levels. Here are some additional free resources which may be helpful.

Supporting Families offers free support, education and information for family and whânau affected by mental health and addiction, including support groups to engage with others who may be experiencing similar issues.The Mental Health Foundation offers information, support services and resources on a wide range of mental health and wellbeing issues, including a list of support groups across New Zealand. Healthpoint is a service that can provide help regarding referrals, services, or any health-related issues.

  • A Mental Health Advance Preference Statement - also sometimes known as an MAP or an advance directive - is a way for you to let people know what you would like to happen if you experience an episode of mental distress and are unable to communicate your preferences.
  • Mental health promotion includes promoting positive mental health messages for all and particularly those most disadvantaged, enabling individual contribution to community goal achievements and coping with normal life stresses
  • Autonomy, Belonging, Identity & Resilience Measurement Tool