New Zealand has announced a new $10 million pilot scheme that will offer free mental health counselling to young people in the country.
Youth mental health is a huge issue in New Zealand, with the country’s teenage suicide rate the highest in the developed world. This has been blamed on a ‘toxic mix’ of family violence, bullying and teenage pregnancies.
Introduced by the Green Party, the new initiative will mainly target those who have left the security of school and now aren’t sure where to turn for health and support.
According to recent statistics 75% of lifelong cases of mental illness started before people turned 25, with a third of Kiwis who seek support being forced to wait for more than three weeks for help. A timescale that may prove too long for some.
Clinical psychologist Cath Hunter, told the press about her hopes for the new program. She said: “The age group is more likely to be studying, struggling into work, on low wages or still dependent on family.
“In my experience a lot of young people don't want to access a GP or other health professional and there is still a strong stigma attached to telling someone you are not coping.
“The most obvious benefit of improved access would be reducing harm, potentially lowering our tragic suicide rate, and halting the development of more persistent mental health conditions, all of which take a much larger toll on family and other health services.
“It would also help younger people achieve healthier relationships, less alcohol and drug abuse along.”
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