More mental wellbeing services for young people in regions

  • Hon Chris Hipkins
  • Hon Julie Anne Genter

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.

Editors note:
The services announced today are:

  • Pūtake Nui Rangatahi Potential in Lakes District Health Board
  • Te Hauora Runanga o Wairarapa in Wairarapa District Health Board
  • Adventure Development in South Canterbury and Southern District Health Boards

Services will be offered in a range of youth friendly locations including sports clubs, community events and schools.

The four contracts to provide the services are worth $3.2 million over two years and mark the beginning of a $16m rollout of youth specific services.

This funding is part of Budget 2019’s $455 million for expanding access and choice of primary mental health and addiction services.   

In July this year, the Government also announced $25 million to boost mental health support for tertiary students, which builds on the existing roll-out of free primary mental health and wellbeing services for 18- to 25-year-olds including programmes at Auckland and Canterbury Universities.

Through the COVID-19 mental health package, a range of youth specific mental wellbeing tools and resources were also funded to provide young people look after their mental wellbeing through the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, including the Melon app, Aroha chatbot and Youthline’s webchat function.