A new study is shedding light on the state of mental health and wellbeing among New Zealand youth - which is continuing to deteriorate.
The Youth19 Rangatahi smart study co-led by Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington shows that while more than two-thirds of high school-aged New Zealanders reported good wellbeing, an increasing number of students reported high levels of distress.
About 23 percent reported significant symptoms of depression and that has almost doubled for many groups since 2012.
Symptoms are higher among female students, Māori, Pasifika and Asian students, those in lower-income communities and those from sexual and gender minority groups.
Study co-lead Dr Theresa 'Terry' Fleming from the university's Faculty of Health said the evidence suggested a worsening emotional and mental wellbeing among New Zealand teens in the last seven years, but no single cause was responsible for this increase in distress.
"Important factors are increased social media, increased loneliness, the impact of poverty, discrimination, or harmful environments, social pressures and the impact of serious worries about the future - from climate change to jobs and housing security."
The survey also looked at suicide attempts among this age group and found that attempts had increased, particularly for males.
Around one-fifth of students reported that they had difficulty getting help for feeling bad or having a hard time in the past year.
They also reported that support when they had problems and addressing climate change and issues that affect their future were critical.
Participants in the survey were asked to identify the biggest problems, and what they think should change to support young people in New Zealand.
Students reported that adults listening to young people and involving them in decisions would make a difference. They also reported that support when they had problems and addressing climate change and issues that affect their future were critical.
University of Auckland associate professor and study co-lead Terryann Clark said that a sense of hope for the future was really important for young people.
"We have to be visionary and brave and make some big system changes if we want to address equity and make a difference for all of our rangatahi and future generations," she said.
The findings are part of the Youth19 Rangatahi smart study, the latest in the Youth2000 survey series. The Youth2000 surveys have run since 2001, with over 36,000 New Zealand high school students surveyed to date.
Where to get help:
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