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Collective effort will ensure Auditor General’s recommendations on mental health support

Recommendations in the Meeting the mental health needs of young New Zealanders report released today by the Auditor General show there is a long way to go to ensure every young person who needs support can access it.

“We’ve got to do everything we can to ensure rangatahi and young people get support with mental health issues in a timely and appropriate way. These recommendations provide further impetus for change,” said Karen Orsborn, Chief Executive of Te Hiringa Mahara | Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission.

“While many reports and recommendations have come before this one, we are not seeing these translated into action.

“We see this as an opportunity for the first Minister for Mental Health to make a real difference. The recommendations call for system leadership. For this to become a reality the Minister could create a sense of urgency and drive improvements that will deliver for rangatahi and young people.”

“The emphasis on the agencies that plan and fund services working together is the key to untapping collective effort that will make real change.”

The Auditor General highlights how tailoring support to the specific needs of young people helps overcome the barriers accessing services faced by young people.

“Services have got to be where young people commonly spend time, and designed to be accessible, youth appropriate and holistic. To get the best outcomes, young people need to lead in the design and delivery of services that are tailored for them,” Ms Orsborn said.

This report comes at a time when rangatahi and young people are experiencing higher rates of mental distress and longer wait times to access support. In the Commission’s recent Briefing to the Incoming Minister, we pointed to the need to expand access to youth mental health and addiction services so no matter where people live or what their ethnicity or gender is, people can get the help they need.

“We know that Māori, rainbow young people, and young people in state care have higher rates of distress yet can’t always get access to the care they need. We need to see this change,” Ms Orsborn said.

The findings of the Auditor General mirror conclusions we have reached, and those of the Cross-Party Mental Health and Addiction Wellbeing Group whose report Under One Umbrella, released in September 2023, focused on integrated mental health, alcohol and other drug use care for young people.

“Te Hiringa Mahara will continue to advocate for changes that improve access to and quality of mental health care for young people and their wellbeing, and we’ll keep monitoring how things are going,” Ms Orsborn said.

“It is very encouraging to see other agencies taking up these issues and considering how they contribute. We welcome the report from the Auditor General and are very pleased to see he has committed to following up.”


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