Thirty-four trauma counsellors are being flown to Christchurch to help with the immediate needs of earthquake victims.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett announced at New Brighton on Wednesday that $2.5 million will be committed to providing trauma support.
The counsellors are from the Salvation Army and Relationship Services and are expected to remain in the city for as long as needed.
About 50 counsellors from Victim Support are already there.
Ms Bennett says she is very concerned about the effect of the earthquake on people, especially children and the elderly.
She says people are frightened and upset.
People who want counselling can ring 0800-RELATE and arrange an appointment or a home visit.
Meanwhile, Canterbury District Health Board is opening a respite unit on Wednesday afternoon for people who are physically frail and unable to cope at home with the aftermath of the earthquake.
The temporary 20-bed unit will be at Princess Margaret hospital and will cater mainly for people who are elderly or have disabilities.
Patients must be referred by their GPs.