Government youth mental health initiative a significant step

A $62 million funding package is a positive step towards reducing New Zealand’s grim youth mental health statistics, says Youth Horizons, a national organisation working with young people.

Details of the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project were announced yesterday April 4 by the Prime Minister, John Key.

“Coupled with the recent announcements on youth welfare reform, the Prime Minister’s package of initiatives represents a significant step towards meeting the mental health needs of thousands of troubled teens,” says the chief executive of Youth Horizons, Cath Handley.

Ms Handley said she applauded the recent initiatives, “Identifying those young people who need help has been a major barrier to them receiving mental health services. Providing assessment and mentoring help at school and investing in technology that gives them better access to support is right on the button.

Coupled with these new ideas Youth Horizons would encourage the Government to maintain its emphasis on job creation. “The young people we work with need more support to access the training, education and work experience that helps them take the difficult step from adolescence to independence and adulthood.

“It’s very important that support organisations like Youth Horizons continue to work in partnership with industry and business to make a real difference for our young people,” she said.

Ms Handley said there were a number of excellent providers working in the youth mental health sector that have always struggled because of a lack of a well-focused multi-agency approach to identifying those most at risk.

“This new package puts money into health, education, family/whanau and community, fostering the kind of collaboration that’s sorely needed to make a real difference. It is refreshing to see the Government has picked up and is responding to this need,” Ms Handley said.

Youth Horizons has a 15 year history of delivering a range of therapeutic and skills-based programmes to young people at risk of conduct and anti-social behaviours.

“Our aim is to help young people make a positive move into adulthood by giving them the support they need to be independent and make a positive contribution to their communities. Our programmes are based on evidence of what works and our success can be measured.

“We feel the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project is tangible evidence that the Government is listening to concerns, and that our efforts, and the efforts of many other organisations working in the same field, have not gone unnoticed, and that together we will make real progress,” Ms Handley said.