Key Notes: Special Edition on Youth Mental Health Package

John Key Prime Minister

Click here to watch my special video on the Youth Mental Health Package
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Announcing a new package of support for Youth Mental Health
Yesterday I delivered an important speech outlining a new approach we're taking to improve mental health services for young New Zealanders aged 12 to 19.  I'm very passionate about youth mental health.  The transition from childhood to adulthood can be difficult and there are some kids out there who struggle with mental health problems, like depression and anxiety, making this an even tougher time for them and their families.

In my speech I announced a $62 million package to improve mental health services across government.  We're going to build on what we're already doing well, make improvements in the areas where we aren't doing so well, and fill some gaps in the system.

There are four areas covered by this package:

Better equipping schools
Our schools help shape young Kiwis into adults and they're an effective way for us to reach young people who may need help.  We want to make sure the school environment is safe and supportive, and we're going to ask schools to take more responsibility for the wellbeing of their students.

To do this, we're investing $18.6 million over the next four years to put nurses and specially trained youth workers into more low-decile secondary schools across the country.  Having youth workers alongside nurses in schools means there will be strong support teams who are able to identify mental health issues early on and help sort them out.

We're also going to invest $12 million to expand the Positive Behaviour School Wide programme to every secondary school.  This programme is already in almost 300 schools.  We want to address behaviour problems which can lead to bullying.  And we want to create a school culture that supports individual responsibility for behaviour.

The Government, through the Education Review Office, will check up on schools to see how they are doing when it comes to student wellbeing.  We're committed to getting this right in the classroom.

Keeping up with technology
The world our kids are growing up in is vastly different to what it was when I was at school.  Technology is rapidly evolving and the internet is a second home for most teenagers.  We have to lift our game if we want to keep pace with our kids and reach the ones who need help. 

We're going to modernise our approach. We'll overhaul mental health-related resources across government to make sure they're youth-friendly and technologically up to date.
We'll invest $2.7 million to provide E-therapy services to young people, and we're going to set up a Social Media Innovations Fund to support service providers to better use social media.

Supporting families to help
Those at home and in our community have an important role to play in supporting young people too.  We're going to put better support in place for parents, families, and friends, to help them identify mental health issues in a young person and encourage them to seek help early.

Parents tell me they don't feel they have access to the right kind of information.  We're going to fund non-government organisations to get that information out to parents.  We'll also be trying a new approach with two Whanau Ora providers, to find out if focusing on the whole family rather than an individual brings better results.

Targeting support through the health system
When a young person takes that crucial first step to seek help, we must make sure we're ready to do all we can to help them. 

I want to build on the great initiatives that are already working well in our health system.  We'll spend $11.3 million to expand primary mental health care to reach more young New Zealanders.  We'll also set new targets to cut wait times and increase the follow-up care for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

Another important health initiative we're rolling out is time-limited funding for community-based Youth One Stop Shops, which are already doing a great job in some communities.  And the final health initiative we're going to implement is a full review of Government-funded drug and alcohol education programmes, to make sure they are actually having a positive effect on young people.

Investing in what works
I'm proud to be the driving force behind this significant package of change.  And to make sure these things are making a real difference we'll be reviewing them after two years.  I'm interested in what works, because our young people need us to get this right.

For more information on this important package, click here.

From my diary
Most schools will be on holiday from this weekend.  I hope you have a safe Easter, and if you're travelling away, stay safe on the roads.  I'm off to Europe with my family, before I head to Indonesia and Singapore to lead a 26-strong business delegation.  I look forward to updating you on this in a few weeks' time.


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John Key
Prime Minister

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