Over 2013-14 a large study was conducted in Australia looking at young people’s mental health and well-being. 6,300 families with children aged 4-17 were surveyed, and results have recently been released. Although there are many differences including social and economic variations between New Zealand and Australia, this research points to concerning trends in the prevalence of mental health issues for young people. The report also highlights opportunities we could take for improving how we deliver support services to young people and their whānau.
The bad news is that this Australian study found 23% of girls surveyed had engaged in self-harm and 20% met the criteria for major depressive disorder. The good news is that we have a range of support services geared specifically for youth, or that include a youth-specific area of service provided by professionals experienced at working with this age group and the array of issues they can face. Unfortunately, barriers exist that prevent young people and their parents from accessing these resources. According to the study, 40% of parents did not seek assistance for their child because they were unsure where to get help, and 29% of parents had difficulty accessing the right service for their need.
In Hawke’s Bay, we have access to a substantial range of youth services and as the team at our own YOSS (Youth One Stop Shop) Directions Youth Health Centre attest to, if they can’t help, they will find a service that can. Your school counsellor takes this same approach. If, as a parent, you have any worries about your child’s mental health, please make contact just as you would contact the school nurse if you were concerned about your daughter’s physical health. The conversation is confidential and the school counsellor is able to provide advice and reassurance, and will put you in touch with relevant services in the community, if this is requested or required, as well as working with the student directly around these concerns.
Below is a list of local services in the Hawke’s Bay and nation-wide services in the way of helplines or useful websites for both students and parents.
LOCAL SUPPORT SERVICES
Directions Youth Health Centre – provides confidential medical, counselling and youth support to people aged 10-24 years old. They are based in Hastings and have Napier clinics, can provide transport, and are FREE. Phone: 871 5307, or check them out on Facebook.
Be Unique – local support group for LBGTIQ youth at Directions Youth Health Centre
Awhina Whanau Services – Māori counselling service for family violence and sexual abuse, phone 878 4827, Hastings
Central Health – drug and alcohol service for rangatahi, phone 876 5120, www.centralhealth.co.nz
Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga – education, employment and life skills programmes for rangatahi, phone 871 5350, www.ttoh.iwi.nz
FREE PHONE/TEXT/ONLINE SUPPORT OPTIONS
Youthline – counselling service free phone 0800 37 66 33 (24/7 support), free TXT 234 (8am – midnight), email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outline – LBGT confidential telephone support, 0800 OUTLINE (6885463), 9am-9pm Mon-Fri, 6-9pm Sat, Sun & Holidays, or check them out on Facebook OUTLine NZ.
The Lowdown – confidential counselling service 24/7, free text 5626 www.thelowdown.co.nz
Common Ground – provides easy access to information that will help friends and whānau support young people to manage hard times, and enjoy happier lives, www.commonground.org.nz
In conclusion, some good news from the Australian survey concerning mental health… the majority of teens now turn to positive coping strategies such as exercise and healthy eating to manage mental health issues, rather than cigarettes, alcohol and drugs as was the case when this survey was first undertaken in 1998.
Mrs Kelly Fisher, School Counsellor
Phone: 0220 80 69 50