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What support do we offer?

We are a Primary Mental Health (PMH) service, offering brief intervention support to University of Otago students on the Dunedin campus.

University of Otago students who are not based on our Dunedin campus can access mental health support via Puāwaitanga or phone 0800 782 999.

Brief intervention models are widely used in PMH services both within NZ and internationally. Our experience indicates a brief intervention model is the most effective approach to meet the majority of our students' needs, while minimising wait times to access our services. Brief intervention can be very effective for managing issues such as anxiety, depression, and other mental health or addiction concerns our students commonly present with.

How do we work?

Our Mental Health and Wellbeing (MHWB) Team include our Mental Health Support (MHS) Clinicians, Counsellors, Clinical Psychologists, and a psychiatrist.

We can offer appointments either in-person or via telehealth. Initial psychiatry appointments are in-person only.

Making an Initial MHS Appointment

You can self-refer by calling SHS reception on 0800 479 821.

You can make an MHS appointment either on the same day or up to one week in advance.

Step 1: Initial Assessment Appointments

In your first appointment, you will be seen by a member of our Mental Health Support (MHS) team to assess what's going on and to create a plan with you around what would be helpful moving forward. This appointment is free.

The support options could look like:

Step 2: Brief Intervention

Our brief intervention model is designed for students presenting with difficulties in the mild to moderate range. Typically, we offer up to six sessions of talking therapy depending on the presenting issues and level of need/complexity.

The cost for counselling/psychology sessions is $10.00 for domestic students and $94.00 for international students (usually charged directly to your insurer).


Clinical staff at SHS share a common electronic appointment and medical record database. Your clinician will enter notes into your record following each consultation with you. Your record will be available to all clinicians directly involved in your care at SHS. This allows us to provide you with continuity of care.

We adhere to privacy legislation and professional guidelines around confidentiality and safety. There are some limits to confidentiality in health legislation relating to safety and risk. If we have concerns for your safety or the safety of others, we will work with you to come up with a safety plan.

University staff outside of Student Health do not have access to your information without your written signed consent.

Please note that if you sign documentation to share your SHS records with another provider (e.g., another GP practice or insurer), mental health notes will automatically be included unless you request otherwise. Please talk to your mental health clinician if you would like further information.

Puāwaitanga – Individual counselling, easy access, where you are

Get support with feelings of anxiety, low mood, relationships, grief, addictions, low self-esteem, or low confidence.

  • A free phone and online support service to help strengthen your hauora (well-being)
  • Counselling sessions held over the phone and using a web-based program
  • Sessions can be held anytime between 9am–9pm, 7 days a week
  • Independent, confidential, free

Enrol online or call 0800 782 999

(You will be asked for your student ID number to confirm you are an enrolled student)

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