Jeanne O'Brien has been working with young people in the Tararua district for 30 years, but she's demanding changes to the service model - and soon.

Speaking at a mental health and addictions hui, organised by the National Party, the manager of Tararua Community Youth Services said being on the front line, she "sees everything".

"I've an invested interest in this beautiful district, but it has its challenges," she said.

"After 30 years working with young people, my world is youth driven, but we have few services for our young which are based here.

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"I've watched services come and go and today we're struggling. It's easier and cheaper to buy a tinnie in Tararua than access health services."

Jeanne O'Brien, manager of Tararua Community Youth Services, has been working with young people in the district for 30 years. Photo / Christine McKay
Jeanne O'Brien, manager of Tararua Community Youth Services, has been working with young people in the district for 30 years. Photo / Christine McKay

The Tararua Community Youth Services team members are recognised for their passion and commitment and to trying to work outside the box to help young people in the district.

But O'Brien said as advocates for young people and the community, they were exhausted.

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"There comes a time when we are saying, no more," she said. "We need to be given autonomy over our own community. Groups here work so well together, but the cracks are surfacing."

Wairarapa MP, National's Alastair Scott, said there needed to be more social investment.

"The data is there, so there needs to be investment in targeted groups," he said.

Fiona Watson, right, speaking at the mental health and addiction hui organised by the National Party in Dannevirke. Photo / Christine McKay
Fiona Watson, right, speaking at the mental health and addiction hui organised by the National Party in Dannevirke. Photo / Christine McKay

But Terry Hynes, a member of the TCYS board, who has been working alongside O'Brien for two years said, "we've had the hui, but no doey".

"We've talked with the DHB and the bottom line is, there is no funding," he said.

"The DHB has said it recognises Tararua is underfunded. Regions like Tararua are desperate and now it's time to starting doing something about it."

Fiona Watson, who works with addicts, agreed it had been all talk so far.

"We know there's a huge need in Tararua, we need less of these meetings and more doing stuff," she said.

"I'm tired of sitting in meetings and hearing excuses."

Matt Doocey, National's spokesperson for mental health, told the meeting he wasn't blaming the DHB, but questioned if it was the right organisation to design and deliver services.

Matt Doocey, National's spokesperson for mental health, addressing health professionals, educators, youth workers in Dannevirke on Tuesday. Photo / Christine McKay
Matt Doocey, National's spokesperson for mental health, addressing health professionals, educators, youth workers in Dannevirke on Tuesday. Photo / Christine McKay

"We now know people with lifelong mental health issues can live in the community, but depending on where you live, you could be missing out on some services because it's a postcode lottery," he said.

"Yes, we do need more money, but are we going to use the same systems to pour money into these issues?"

Nicholas Fitness, the Dannevirke High School deputy principal, said there seemed to be a shortfall in what was available in the way of service.

"We are deeply concerned for kids who have fallen off the radar," he said.

"Outside the school gates, serious things are affecting our kids, but as a school we are putting a lot of work into stamping out bullying and encouraging physical wellbeing by getting students into sport."