Mental health services face cutbacks and closures as district health boards look to rein in funding.

The sudden closure of a highly regarded recovery centre for vulnerable teens and young adults in Auckland has been blamed on funding uncertainty, although critics maintain the decision to close the Mind Matters Trust house in Titirangi was a panic response.

In Wellington, the Capital and Coast District Health Board has signalled cuts for mental health services in the new financial year in a bid to trim $10 million from its community spending. Agencies are considering severe staffing and service cuts.

In Christchurch, the planned closure of the 198 Youth Centre on April 30 has sparked protests and marches. The centre provides general and mental health services.

In Gisborne, the Tairawhiti District Health Board's choice of an Auckland contractor to provide general mental health services means funding cuts and job losses for the former contractor, which will now provide Maori services. But the health board says overall funding will be maintained and a wider range of services provided.

District health board financial circumstances and funding practices vary markedly around the country: Auckland boards are not signalling cuts for community providers who are on three-year contracts. But boards everywhere are under pressure to reduce deficits.

Agencies are most alarmed by suggestions that the "ringfence" on mental health funding - which means boards cannot divert the funding to other areas of expenditure - may be eased from the end of the 2010-11 year.