Govt expands Mana Ake to provide more school-based mental wellbeing support

Education Health

More children will be able to access mental wellbeing support with the Government expansion of Mana Ake services to five new District Health Board areas, Health Minister Andrew Little says.

The Health Minister made the announcement while visiting Homai School in Counties Manukau alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti.

“Mana Ake has supported more than 7,000 children across Canterbury and Kaikōura since 2018. It has been a proven success and we are delighted to announce we’re continuing to support the programme in Canterbury and beginning to expand this programme across New Zealand,” Andrew Little said.

“This is a significant step to ensure every primary and intermediate-aged school child in Aotearoa will have access to mental health and wellbeing support services. This is part of the Labour government’s commitment to lay the foundations for a better future.”

The expansion of Mana Ake will start in five new DHB areas; Northland, Counties Manukau, Bay of Plenty, Lakes and West Coast.

The programme provides mental health and wellbeing support for children in primary school years 1–8. Kaimahi (workers) support schools and whānau when children are experiencing issues that affect their wellbeing that can include bullying, parental separation, grief and loss.

Mana Ake will be funded through Vote Health and Vote Education for the first time, showing a true cross-government approach.

“This Government is dedicated to supporting our young people and their whānau. It provides immense comfort for parents and caregivers to know that children will be supported when they go to school,” Jan Tinetti said.

“Schools are the perfect place to roll out programmes to build mental well-being capability that will benefit children, as well as their teachers, whānau and communities.”

With the Mana Ake model as a base, DHBs and local communities will co-design services for their areas.

“It’s important we ensure children and young people have early access to support that provides the foundations of lifelong mental wellbeing. This can take many different forms and that’s why we need to make sure we provide access to tailored approaches to meet the needs of different communities,” Andrew Little said.

“Everybody has a role in supporting the mental wellbeing of those in their communities and by working together we can all contribute to ensuring the next generation is empowered and resilient to make for a better future.”

Youth mental health is part of the Cooperation Agreement between Labour and the Greens.

“Everybody deserves access to mental health support when they need it. With Mana Ake, we have an incredible opportunity to ensure that New Zealanders know from a young age that they can and should reach out for help,” Green Party mental health spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick said.