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Greens announce free counselling for young people

The Green Party in government will fund free counselling for all New Zealanders aged 25 and under as part of a $260 million youth mental health package.

“Free counselling for any young person who wants to talk about the ups and downs they are experiencing with a trained professional will make a huge difference to people’s wellbeing,” Green Party leader James Shaw said today.

“Everyone goes through ups and downs and as a society we can do more to recognise that and support people through hard times, so that the hard times don’t get worse.

“We need to end the stigma and shame for our young people around emotional wellbeing, encourage people to speak up, and when they do, make sure there is help readily available.

“Every suicide is a tragedy and we know from overseas evidence that there are things government can do that will make a difference to stop suicides from happening.

“The Green Party believes that suicide is preventable and we want to work towards zero suicide within our healthcare system.

“As well as free counselling, the Green Party is committed to increasing youth mental health services funding by $100 million per year, to reduce waiting times, ensure specialist treatment is available when needed, and retain and value staff.

“Integrating wellness into the school curriculum will help equip young people with the skills they need to navigate life’s ups and downs, strengthen their identity and build understanding of their place in the world.  This will involve working with parents and whānau so that they can recognise the signs of mental distress in their children, and to know what action to take.

“For many young people, accessing a school counsellor is currently too difficult. There needs to be tagged funding and a ratio of 1:400 student to ensure trained school guidance counsellors are available.

“In addition, the Green Party in government will hold a nationwide mental health inquiry to address broader issues,” Mr Shaw said.