7 May 2021

Youth mental health funding boost not enough, but a start - advocates

7:28 pm on 7 May 2021

A boost in funding for youth mental health is being welcomed in the north, but Health Minister Andrew Little concedes that for some people it will feel overdue.

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

Health Minister Andrew Little says the funding will make a difference. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Little today announced $4.6 million to extend services through Northland, Auckland and Waitemata District Health Boards.

The new money will help provide support for 240,000 people.

"Youth are at the greatest risk of developing mental health issues because of the rapid changes that occur between the ages of 12 to 24," Little said.

"We need to work on preventing mental health and addiction issues from developing, and intervening early when challenges start to arise."

The funds will go to Emerge Aotearoa in Auckland and Waitematā to expand its EaseUp mobile service and in Northland, Te Kaupapa Mahitahi Hauora Papa o Te Raki Trust will expand its He Kakano Ahau service.

The He Kakano Ahau service will create six primary youth mental health teams spread across the region, with each including a primary mental health coordinator, a youth worker and a senior mental health and addictions clinician.

Whangarei's Youth Space is one of the providers contracted to deliver the service in Northland, and was where Little made today's announcement.

Kia Ora Ngati Wai chief executive Lynette Stewart was there too and said while more funding would be needed, it was a good start.

"Absolutely not far enough but it's a very good place for us to be in today," he said.

"I've just been talking to some of the young people in there who said to me 'Lynette it's already not quite big enough' and I said I know but I thought I better behave myself in front of the Minister."

Sherie Ihaia Reweti (Ngatiwai, Ngati Rangi, Te Kapotai, Nga Puhi,) works at Youth Space - and said they'd had huge growth in engagement with young people who want support.

"We used to have a counsellor onsite - through funding that got cut it's kind of been left up to us as the kaimahi to sort of fill that void, which is not a problem, but at the same time we've got all these things that we've got to be doing.

"It would be great for the money to go towards stuff like that, to alleviate us so we can do our mahi better."

Little said the funding would make a difference.

"For some people it will feel like it's long overdue but it's coming and it's there and it's providing support that is much needed in communities around New Zealand."

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