15 May 2023

Increasing distress and declining mental health outcomes among rangatahi Māori - report

4:37 pm on 15 May 2023
A young person with short hair looks into the sunset.

Photo: Unsplash / Traveler Geek

A new report from the Te Hiringa Mahara, Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission has identified declining mental health outcomes and increasing distress among rangatahi Māori.

To turn that around, the report - which labels itself a "call to action" recommends young people have a voice in decisions that affect them.

The report identified racism and discrimination, social media, whānau wellbeing and uncertainty about the future as the main factors affecting the wellbeing of young people.

Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission chief executive Karen Orsborn said rangatahi were navigating unique challenges, from climate change to an increasingly online world.

"It's not only the challenges but it's the combined impact of those challenges that are creating the uncertainty and a sense of being overwhelmed.

"Climate change is a big issue, it's consistently raised by young people as being an area of significant concern, and the recent climate events have made this much more real for people."

Rangatahi had solutions and were experts in their own right, Orsborn said.

"Young people do need to have a voice at the decision making tables. It's about their futures and they have a lot to contribute and so absolutely need to be at that decision making table."

The report calls on government and systems leaders to start to address the issues that have a large impact on young people, she said.

Among the reports recommendations were ensuring government agencies were coordinated and resourced to involve rangatahi Māori in decision making about their futures, to support youth inclusive climate change action and include civic engagement, mental health awareness and and financial literacy in the education curriculum.

A second report investigating young people being admitted into adult inpatient mental health services and explaining why this practice must stop, will be released on Wednesday.

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