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Report shows young people need more mental health support

December 1, 2022 

Interview by Joe Wickins, adapted by David Liwei Sh

Listen to the full interview.

New research has revealed that levels of distress, depression and suicidal thoughts are particularly high for young New Zealanders aged 18-34. 

This came after the Access and Choice programme report released by Te Hiringa Mahara/ Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, revealed that Labour’s $2 million mental health care system is failing and needs to be urgently re-structured.

Chief Executive of Te Hiringa Mahara, Karen Osbourne tells The Wire that the report should give insight into the progress and challenges faced by primary care and mental health sectors responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Osbourne says young people are of particular focus, as they face concerns of “the future, climate change, the economy, housing, social media and connectivity with family and friends.”

Osbourne believes young people’s mental wellbeing is  “more than just a health system issue, but a societal issue,” and knows that “Covid had an impact on [them] during a critical time in terms of  their own development.”

The Chief Executive observes that our mental health systems are difficult to access, leaving many with the impression that mental wellbeing is not prioritised in Aotearoa.

To address the issue, Osbourne advocates for more affordable services available to people with “low to moderate” distress and more accessible information for the public to know about such services. 

“We also need to have actions that address wider factors,” such as fostering a culture of discussing mental health and creating a more accepting environment. 

Osbourne calls for the government to have stronger leadership around the workforce, as well as allowing young people to have more say in mental health support plans.

“We know that when services are designed with people who are using them, they are more likely to meet their needs.” 

Public interest journalism funded through NZ On Air