Innovative social media projects reach out to young people

  • Paula Bennett
Housing Social Development

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett today launched the Social Media Innovations Fund with five projects to focus on improving youth mental health.

The Social Media Innovations Fund supports organisations to relate to young people through innovative projects, so they build resilience and get help when they need it.

“These projects will use social media in a smart, savvy way, encouraging young people to reach out and share their worries and concerns and stay connected to those who can help,” says Mrs Bennett.

“Youth mental health can be a difficult topic for young people to talk about so we need to communicate with them on their terms,” Mrs Bennett said.

Projects include a ‘mood diary’ smart phone app developed by the Phobic Trust, Youthline’s text-message counselling pilot, and the Zeal Voice binge drinking prevention programme, to be undertaken across a range of social media sites.

As part of the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project, these five projects will each receive one-off grants totalling $100,000, from the overall fund of $2 million over four years.

Mrs Bennett says for most young people Facebook, Twitter, texting, and YouTube have always been a part of everyday life.

“They live, talk, and socialise online, and if we want to have serious conversations about harmful behaviour and mental or emotional issues, we’ve got to be online too.”

Mrs Bennett also announced a series of ‘LifeHack’ weekends in April 2013, where young people will team up with mental health experts, designers and developers, to co-create social media projects that meet the Fund criteria.

“To young people, LifeHack means solving everyday problems in innovative ways - that’s what we’re aiming to do here,” says Mrs Bennett.

The best ideas from each weekend will be supported by government and business to get them up and running.

A full list of grant recipients can be viewed at

For more information about the Life Hack weekends visit