A resilient student community

It’s no secret that New Zealand is currently facing a mental health crisis, and our rangatahi (young people) are often the most at risk.

In 2018, the Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association took to the streets of Wellington, along with many students, to demand that the Government increase its support of mental health providers at tertiary institutions—and both the University and the Government were listening.

The Ministry of Health, in partnership with Tu Ora Compass Health, recently included Victoria University of Wellington in the tertiary sector pilot of Piki, an initiative that provides free mental health support for 18- to 25-year-olds across the greater Wellington region and boosts the range of mental health services available to them on and off campus.

Students at the University now have access to four additional full-time counsellors or psychologists who complement the existing service offered by Mauri Ora (Student Health and Student Counselling), as well as access to external specialist support.

This includes peer support groups and new digital resources—both of which university staff and students have helped shape, and continue to develop and design content for, says Pam Thorburn, director of Student Academic Services.

“A strong youth voice is required to ensure the pilot of Piki is a success. We are committed to working in partnership with our students and external providers to build a resilient community in which students succeed academically and have a positive student experience.”