More mental wellbeing services for young people in regions

More mental health and addiction services are available for young New Zealanders in Rotorua and Taupō, Wairarapa, South Canterbury, Dunedin and Southland from next month, Health Minister Chris Hipkins and Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter say.

“The Government is serious about making sure New Zealanders struggling with mental health or addiction issues get the help they need as early as possible,” Chris Hipkins says.

“The services we’re announcing today, which will be available to more than 60,000 young New Zealanders across four regions, are an important part of our plan to do that.

“The ages 12 to 24 are a time of rapid change and development and that’s when people are at the highest risk for the onset of mental health problems and psychological distress. We know these problems have been increasing among our young people for some years.

“It’s critical young people have a broad range of support they can access, that is youth-friendly and reflects their specific needs,” Chris Hipkins says.

Julie Anne Genter says those needs have become more pressing with many young New Zealanders affected by the uncertainty of COVID-19 and its impact on their social connections, financial stability, studies and living arrangements.

“All of us have ups and downs, particularly with the challenges we’ve faced this year, which is why it’s so important to invest in our mental health system, so young New Zealanders can get the support they need in tough times.

“Services in Lakes District, South Canterbury, Southern and Wairarapa District Health Board areas will be able to see more young people more quickly and offer a wider range of options of mental health and wellbeing support.

“We need to encourage young people to reach out if they need help, and that will only happen if they have a choice about where they go and how they access support so they feel comfortable to do that.”

A new youth service in the Wairarapa area will also be up and running from October that will integrate with the existing Piki service for 18- to 25-year-olds operating across the Greater Wellington area.

“It’s great to build on the success of Piki, which offers a broad range of youth-friendly services in youth-friendly locations, and has increased the number of counsellors in the Wellington, Hutt and Wairarapa DHB regions.

“This investment in mental health is the result of the Confidence and Supply Agreement between Labour and the Green Party,” says Julie Anne Genter.

Chris Hipkins says the new services are focused on providing early intervention so that young people get the help they need early and can help prevent difficulties from becoming more serious.

“These services represent the start of a youth mental health programme that will be rolled out in all areas around New Zealand over the next year, and I’ll be announcing further services in other areas soon,” Chris Hipkins said.

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