News and Notices

A Guide to Navigating Mental Health Services in Nelson Marlborough

The mental health system has many layers and it can be challenging to know where to start. There are a variety of services and community groups available to help you. This article will explore options and access points. 

Key takeaway: For most people, the first step to accessing mental health care is to talk to a GP. A GP can guide and refer you on toward the appropriate service and care. 

Care in a crisis

If there is a crisis situation, requiring urgent care, there are a number of avenues.


In an emergency, call 111 and ask for the police.

The Whakarongorau Triage Service

Contact the Whakarongorau Triage Service if:

  • you are worried about your mental health
  • you are worried about the mental health of another person

The Whakarongorau Triage Service will:

  • provide initial advice
  • forward calls to crisis or emergency services if required
  • connect to the Community Assessment Team in urgent situations if required

24/7: Phone 0800 776 364

Community Assessment Teams

Te Whatu Ora - Nelson Marlborough Community Assessment Teams provide assessment, intervention and ongoing treatment for people over the age of 18 with serious psychiatric disorder and/or severe emotional/behavioural problems of a psychological nature.

  • Calls are triaged by the Whakarongorau Triage Service
    • Nelson: Phone: 0800 776 364 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
    • Marlborough: Phone: 0800 948 497 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
    • Golden Bay via Te Whare Mahana: Phone: 03 525 7647 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

For a Community Assessment Team for children and youth under 18:

  • Nelson: Phone: (03) 546 1230 - Monday to Friday, 8.30am - 5.00pm
    • After hours emergency phone: Nelson Hospital (03) 546 1800 and ask for 'on-call CAMHS'
    • Blenheim: Phone: (03) 520 9905 - Monday to Friday, 8.30am - 5.00pm
      • After hours emergency phone: Wairau Hospital (03) 520 9999 and ask for 'on-call CAMHS'
    • Golden Bay: Golden Bay via Te Whare Mahana: Phone: 03 525 7647 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Pathways to mental health care 

Phone Helplines

There are a variety of free, phone-based services are available to provide support and information to you, your parents, whānau and friends. Helpline services are a great place to start if you are feeling low and need to talk to someone, or are looking for information about mental health care. Helplines are operated by trained counsellors, peers, or other mental health professionals, depending on the service.

  • 1737 is a national helpline which offers brief one to one counselling support with a trained counsellor or peer support worker. It is for anyone feeling stressed, overwhelmed, down, and needing someone to talk to. 1737 can also provide support and information to family and friends of those affected by mental distress. Free call or text 1737 anytime 24/7.
  • There are specialist helplines that can help you get the specific support you need, whether it is help with parenting (Parent Help: 0800 568 856 9am to 9pm), sexuality or gender (OUTLine NZ 0800 688 5463 6pm to 9pm), or depression (Depression Helpline 0800 111 757 or free text 4202 24/7).

Visit Te Whatu Ora Nelson Marlborough’s Free Helplines page for a full list of helplines.


Typically, in a non-crisis situation, the best place to start is with your GP. A GP can provide advice and may suggest treatment options, including medication, psychotherapy and counselling. When appropriate, A GP might refer you to a special service or organisation if you meet certain criteria. Possibilities include: 

  • Brief Intervention Services through a PHO (Primary Health Organisation). These are free, short-term services for those with mild to moderate mental health issues.
  • A referral to Te Whatu Ora Nelson Marlborough’s specialist mental health services. Referrals are triaged into the most suitable level of care within mental health services.
  • A referral to community mental health services. Community-based services offer support, day programmes, and peer-led support. Some require referrals from a GP or mental health professional, while others do not – see below. 

Community mental health services that accept self-referrals  

While some mental health services in non-hospital settings require referrals from GPs or mental health professionals, there are many services and support groups in our region that accept self-referrals.  

The Family Service Directory, Healthpoint, the Mental Health Foundation, and Te Whatu Ora provide a local directory of support groups and in-person support services. 

Here a just a couple to highlight: 

  • Nīkau Hauora Hub, Nelson  
    • A welcoming place where you will find peer and community support on your wellbeing journey. At Nīkau Hauora Hub you can find support in mental health, housing, addiction, employment, Māori health, and more. Read more. 
  • CARE Marlborough, Blenheim 
    • CARE's Activity Programme is open 7 days a week from 10 am to 2 pm. In a comfortable and safe environment participants share common experiences and develop their strengths. Visit their website for an activity calendar which includes cooking classes, art groups, $5 lunches, and outings. 
    • The Advocacy Service works in partnership with you to support your rights when using a health or disability service. 
    • Phone: 03 578 0302 
      Cell Phone: 0275754750 
      [email protected] 
  • Te Whare Mahana Community Mental Health, Golden Bay
    • Te Whare Mahana assists local people in achieving wellness and independence in their lives in the short or long term. The Trust also provides peer support and advocacy, guided by the notion that trusting, supportive, and respectful relationships lead to healing and recovery.  
    • For more information about this service please contact the Community Mental Health Team on 03 525 7647 or email [email protected] 

Private Therapy  

The Mental Health Foundation recommends several search services for finding a therapist privately. When you work with a therapist privately you will have to pay for the appointment. You may be able to access the WINZ Disability Allowance to help cover some of the costs.

from Maple2

For more search directories, visit the Mental Health Foundation.

Kaupapa Māori services  

For mental health care in a kaupapa Māori setting, ask your provider about receiving support from Te Piki Oranga or Oranga Toi Ora.  

  • Te Piki Oranga provides specialist mental health and addiction services through primary and specialist services. In this service, Pūkenga Manaaki (experienced mental health support workers) provide a recovery oriented community based assessment, treatment and therapy service for mental health and addiction problems that is accessible, coordinated and effectively targeted for Māori.  Pūkenga Manaaki work with clinical and non-clinical staff in care planning across services.
  • Oranga Toi Ora Māori Mental Health provides specialist crisis and routine assessment, care management and consultancy throughout which Maori values and health are inherent.
    • The principles of equity, accessibility, freedom of choice and the right to quality are sustained in a culturally-sensitive service that is appropriately either Maori, mainstream or a combination of both.
    • Referrals must come via a GP, a Community Assessment Team member, or a Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand clinical referral.

Useful links for learning about mental health services