Nearly quarter of a million more young New Zealanders will have access to mental health and addiction support in their communities as the Government’s youth mental health programme gathers pace.
New contracts to expand youth-specific services across the Northland, Waitematā and Auckland District Health Board areas have been confirmed, providing services for 240,000 young people.
“Youth are at the greatest risk of developing mental health issues because of the rapid changes that occur between the ages of 12 to 24,” Health Minister Andrew Little said during a visit to one of the services in Whangārei today.
“We need to wrap support around our rangatahi and ensure they have access to the right kind of help, when and where they need it – that includes embedding services within communities.
“We need to work on preventing mental health and addiction issues from developing, and intervening early when challenges start to arise.
“We need to be flexible in our approach and make it easy for people to get the help they need.”
Across Auckland and Waitematā, Emerge Aotearoa is being funded to expand its EaseUp mobile service based on an assertive outreach model that ensures easy access for rangatahi.
In Northland, Te Kaupapa Mahitahi Hauora Papa o Te Raki Trust will expand its He Kakano Ahau service. He Kakano Ahau is an integrated service which, as well as providing mental health and addiction supports, ensures pathways for youth into wider community support, including social services, if it’s needed.
“These latest contracts are further evidence that the roll out of youth-specific services is well and truly under way,” Andrew Little said.
“We now have contracts for dedicated services to support rangatahi with mild-to-moderate mental health and addiction needs in 13 DHB areas across New Zealand, and there are more to come.”
These youth-specific services for Northland and Auckland will cost of $4.6 million over two years, are part of the $455 million programme to increase access to, and choice of, free mental health and addiction services.
Youth are a priority within the programme, alongside Māori, Pacific and young Rainbow New Zealanders.
The programme also includes an initiative to develop a new frontline mental health and addiction workforce within general practices. As at the end of March, 191 general practices across New Zealand were offering the service.
“These services supported more than 9500 people in March, giving them help that was not previously available,” Andrew Little said.