More mental health and addiction services for young people have been announced for several regions in New Zealand, including Rotorua and Taupō.
Health Minister Chris Hipkins and Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter announced today that the new services will be available in Rotorua and Taupō, Wairarapa, South Canterbury, Dunedin and Southland from next month.
"The Government is serious about making sure New Zealanders struggling with mental health or addiction issues get the help they need as early as possible," Hipkins said.
"The services we're announcing today, which will be available to more than 60,000 young New Zealanders across four regions, are an important part of our plan to do that.
"The ages 12 to 24 are a time of rapid change and development and that's when people are at the highest risk for the onset of mental health problems and psychological distress. We know these problems have been increasing among our young people for some years.
"It's critical young people have a broad range of support they can access, that is youth-friendly and reflects their specific needs."
Genter said those needs have become more pressing with many young New Zealanders affected by the uncertainty of Covid-19 and its impact on their social connections, financial stability, studies and living arrangements.
"All of us have ups and downs, particularly with the challenges we've faced this year, which is why it's so important to invest in our mental health system, so young New Zealanders can get the support they need in tough times.
"Services in Lakes District, South Canterbury, Southern and Wairarapa District Health Board areas will be able to see more young people more quickly and offer a wider range of options of mental health and wellbeing support.
"We need to encourage young people to reach out if they need help, and that will only happen if they have a choice about where they go and how they access support so they feel comfortable to do that."
Hipkins said the new services were focused on providing early intervention so that young people get the help they need early and can help prevent difficulties from becoming more serious.
The services announced today are:
· Pūtake Nui Rangatahi Potential in Lakes District Health Board.
· Te Hauora Runanga o Wairarapa in Wairarapa District Health Board.
· Adventure Development in South Canterbury and Southern District Health Boards.
Services will be offered in a range of youth-friendly locations including sports clubs, community events and schools.
The four contracts to provide the services are worth $3.2 million over two years and mark the beginning of a $16m rollout of youth-specific services.
Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey welcomed the announcement.
"Improving the mental health of Rotorua youth is vital to Rotorua's Covid-19 recovery. I'm proud that this Government is increasing our investment in Pūtake Nui, partnering with Māori, whānau, council and our local community services to help turn things around for our rangatahi so that they can reach their full potential.
"Collaboration and combining strengths is how the Waiariki will rebuild better from this pandemic. I am committed to playing my part in ensuring that includes better futures for our young people – especially helping tamariki rangatahi Māori to succeed as Māori.
"Pūtake Nui at Lakes' DHB helps remove traditional barriers and backs our young ones as they face more social issues and challenges more often. With this increased funding empowering them to create more rangatahi-led solutions to youth issues, I am confident they will continue to make a real difference in our community."