18 Sep 2022

International mental health programme to be adapted for Aotearoa rangatahi

1:38 pm on 18 September 2022

An international mental health first aid training programme targeting rangatahi will be piloted in the Southern Lakes.

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An international mental health first aid training programme targeting young people is being adapted for use in Aotearoa. Photo: 123RF

Te Hau Toka Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group has partnered with national workforce development provider Te Pou to bring the programme to Aotearoa and adapt it for New Zealand specific use.

It covers common mental health challenges and crises experienced by young people including depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and eating disorders.

It is expected to take about six months to adapt the course.

Once it is adapted, 10 people who work with youth in the Southern Lakes will be selected to pilot the 14-hour programme.

It will certify them to train other adults working with youth in places including schools and sports clubs as well as whānau to become Youth Mental Health First Aiders.

Te Hau Toka Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group was providing Te Pou with the funding to adapt it.

Its chairperson Adell Cox said the work was critical for supporting rangatahi now and into the future.

"Prevention and early intervention are key to keeping our communities well and there's a real need for more evidence-based specialised training to support our young people," Cox said.

Adolescence was the peak age of onset for mental health issues with half of all people who would ever experience a mental health challenge experiencing their first episode before turning 18, she said.

"Early onset of mental health challenges is a significant predictor for future episodes but adolescents and young adults are less likely to seek or receive treatment than the wider population.

"This means that the adults around them can affect whether or not help is sought, and how quickly. It's vital that we educate those people and give them the knowledge, tools and support to do that.

"Our youth mental health specialists have worked hard to identify a solution which will help us upskill key people in the Southern Lakes region. By working with Te Pou and paying the one-off development costs, we will be able to use this internationally acclaimed programme locally as well as making it available nationally through Te Pou so that other regions can benefit at a fraction of the cost."

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