29 Aug 2021

$1m fast-tracked to help youth mental health in lockdown

2:16 pm on 29 August 2021

Due to the current Delta outbreak the government has introduced a $1 million fund aimed at community projects to support youth mental health in Auckland and Northland, Health Minister Andrew Little announced today.

Andrew Little at  Mana Ake announcement, Manurewa, 15 April.

Health Minister Andrew Little. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

"We have learned from previous lockdowns that they are particularly challenging for young people and that the greatest need for support for young people in Aotearoa kicks in around two weeks in," Little said in a statement.

The Youth Mental Wellbeing Fund is a $1m fund for grassroots initiatives, similar to the existing Māori and Pacific Community Suicide Prevention Funds. Grants will be made of $50,000 or $100,000, depending on the initiative.

Calls to look after mental health have risen during the latest lockdown.

Youth "can experience higher levels of distress when taken out of normal learning environments," Little said, and may also be dealing with transient housing and employment.

"This is why we have moved quickly to make funding available for community-led initiatives that focus on supporting mental resilience and wellbeing when youth need it most," he said.

"Mental health is an important part of the government's response to Covid and vital in laying the foundations for a better future for New Zealand."

Applications for the fund open tomorrow and close 6 September. Funding will be released in coming weeks, Little said. Details will be available on the Ministry of Health website.

The grant will seek proposals from small community-based mental wellbeing providers who can also demonstrate how the proposed services will aid young people facing inequities in mental health and well-being.

Groups being looked at in the funding include but are not limited to Rangatahi Māori, Pacific young people, LBGTQIA youth, refugees and migrants, the ministry said.

"Investing in these community-led initiatives means support is tailored to the people that need it, that services are easily accessed and they are available as soon as possible," Little said.

The government also acted to support students last October who were struggling to return to school during the pandemic.

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