National Depression Initiative

The National Depression Initiative (NDI) aims to reduce the impact of depression and anxiety on the lives of New Zealanders by aiding early recognition, appropriate treatment, and recovery.

Budget 2019

Budget 2019 has a major focus on new mental health, wellbeing and addiction initiatives. To find out more see Budget 2019: Mental health, wellbeing and addiction initiatives.

The National Depression Initiative is part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to preventing suicide, along with improving the mental health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders. First launched in 2006, the National Depression Initiative originated from the first New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy 2006–2016 (Goal 1: Promote mental health and wellbeing, and prevent mental health problems).

Operational responsibility for NDI’s population health and social marketing initiatives was transferred from the Ministry of Health to the Health Promotion Agency, in 2012 following the establishment of the crown entity to deliver the Government’s health promotion functions. In November 2015, the depression helpline and counselling support services component of the National Depression Initiative became part of the integrated National Telehealth Service.

The Ministry of Health retains strategic oversight of the National Depression Initiative as part of its broader mental health work programme, working in partnership with both the Health Promotion Agency and telehealth provider Homecare Medical Limited.

The National Depression Initiative framework


The objectives of the NDI framework are to:

  • strengthen individual, family and social factors that protect against depression and anxiety
  • improve family, community and professional responsiveness to depression and anxiety.

Key strategies

  1. Identify and build on opportunities to create a social and physical environment that protects people from depression and anxiety.
  2. Encourage people to recognise and become more responsive to depression and anxiety, including:
    • the importance of early identification and intervention
    • assisting people to recognise symptoms of depression and anxiety in themselves and others
    • encouraging people to seek appropriate help
    • increasing awareness of effective interventions for depression and anxiety, including self help strategies.
  3. Improve the capability of health professionals to respond appropriately to people seeking help with depression and anxiety.
  4. Support coordination mechanisms between public health, primary health care and mental health care services, consistent with the objectives of the National Depression Initiative.
  5. Support the above with research, monitoring and evaluation.

Components of the National Depression Initiative

The National Depression Initiative (NDI) is made up of a number of components: the website that includes an online self-help tool (The Journal), and a youth-focused website These tools are supported by television, radio and online advertising, print resources; and telephone triage and advice, and counselling services for people seeking help for themselves or others. Complementing the public-facing resources and services are support for health partners and engagement with wider sector stakeholders; research, evaluation and monitoring. and websites

Both and websites and associated resources provide information about depression and anxiety, and where to find help.

Fronted by Sir John Kirwan (JK), aims to support adults at risk of or experiencing depression and anxiety, along with their family and friends. The website was updated with new content and functionality in 2016, including an update to the online self-help tool The Journal.

The website is aimed at young people aged 12 to 20. First launched in 2007, the Lowdown was updated in 2015, to include updated content and functionality, adding information on anxiety as well as depression. The website includes a forum where young people can share their experiences and get input from both peers and trained moderators.

Support helplines

24/7 access to individual counselling support is available free to users as part of the National Telehealth Service.

  • Free call or text 1737 any time
  • Call the Depression helpline 0800 111 757
  • For users of The Lowdown, the service also responds to texts (text 5626) and emails, and moderates the Lowdown forum.

Health education resources on depression and anxiety

A range of print and downloadable education resources are accessible from the Health Promotion Agency website.

Research, evaluation and monitoring

Research and monitoring related to the National Depression Initiative are updated on the Health Promotion Agency’s website, and include:

More information


Other strategies in mental health and primary care

As well as contributing to preventing suicide, the NDI is also consistent with the strategic direction and objectives of mental health and primary care strategies, for example:

Publications on the National Depression Initiative

Publications that precede the transition of NDI to the Health Promotion Agency are available in our Library catalogue.

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