NZAC urges Government to prioritise youth mental health

Youth mental health should be the Government’s priority in light of Youthline Wellington’s cries for help, says NZ Association of Counsellors (NZAC) president, Bev Weber.

The free counsellor helpline announced earlier today it is struggling financially, and called for donations, grants, and partnerships.

While the Wellington hub is minimally funded by the Government, other funding is donated by individuals or businesses.

Ms Weber says services like Youthline are instrumental in complementing other counselling services.

For it to close ‘or possibly even terminate its services’ would be tragic, she says.

“These services are incredibly important to the mental health of so many people, not just in Wellington but for those who access its services throughout the country.”

Ms Weber is urging the Government to step in and help, especially as Christmas approaches.

“This is probably one of the most stressful times of the year,” she says.

“If the potential closure of one of Youthline’s hubs becomes a reality, then it’s going to have negative impacts on those who miss out on its vital service and further compound the mental health service’s problems.”

Ms Weber says as New Zealand’s youth suicide rate is consistently one of the highest in the OECD, the youth mental health service is under increasing pressure.

“NZAC sees youth mental health as a major issue that needs addressing by the Ministries of Health and Social Development immediately. Make youth mental health a priority.”

Last year, Youthline Wellington’s counsellors answered over 920 calls and responded to almost 6,000 text messages from young people.

In addition, youth workers reached out to almost 1,400 young people through education in the community and school visits.