News release

04 April 2012
PM unveils Youth Mental Health package

Prime Minister John Key today unveiled a package of initiatives to ensure young people with mental health problems receive better, faster, and more modern help.

In a speech in Wellington, Mr Key said the $62 million package was the result of intensive work led by his own department, following an important report from Chief Science Advisor Professor Sir Peter Gluckman.

“I’m proud the National-led Government has taken several steps to improve the opportunities available to young people in this country over the past three years,” Mr Key said.

“More than anyone else, young people will determine the future shape and prosperity of New Zealand.

“But one in five of our young people will experience some form of mental health problem during the crucial time that they are transitioning to becoming an adult.

“Even mild mental illness can have a wide impact on a young person’s life and on those around them. When the worst happens and a teenager takes their own life, those left behind have a heavy burden to bear.

“I know we can do better for young people with mental illness and that’s why I have personally driven the package of initiatives I am announcing today.”

The Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health package works in four different places:

  • In schools
  • Online
  • In families and communities, and
  • In the health system.

Mr Key said nurses and specially-trained youth workers will be added to lower-decile schools to help identify students who have a mental illness and get them appropriate care. The Positive Behaviour School Wide programme will also be rolled out across all secondary schools to improve the environment young people are learning in.

In return, Mr Key said schools will be asked to take more responsibility for the wellbeing of their students.

“The Education Review Office will begin measuring how well schools are doing when it comes to student wellbeing, and over time we expect them to show improvements in areas like bullying,” Mr Key said.

The Youth Mental Health package also includes several initiatives to modernise the way government reaches mentally ill young people.

“We need to lift our game to keep up with these kids, who are quickly adopting new technology like Smartphones or using Twitter and Facebook,” Mr Key said.

Along with an overhaul of existing mental health resources, new ideas will be sought through a Social Media Innovations Fund to keep providers of youth services technologically up to date.

The package also contains several other initiatives including a lift in funding for primary mental health care, new wait-time targets for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and a new Whānau Ora approach.

“Parents can often find it hard to tell the difference between normal teenage behaviour and mild to moderate mental illness,” Mr Key said.

“To help parents, families and friends we are also going to fund NGOs to get more information out to them about what to look for and where to get help.”

“The Youth Mental Health package fills gaps in our current system and builds on the good work our mental health professionals are already doing in this area.

“We’ll be reviewing all of the initiatives in two years’ time to ensure we are hitting the mark and helping our young people.”

Related documents (all in PDF):


Health sector initiatives

School based initiatives

Online initiatives

Family and community initiatives


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#1 - Tarsia Smyth 2012-04-04 12:50 - (Reply)

What about helping people that are older than youth with mental issues? The Mental Health Act has failed miserably on many levels for my mother who suffers from Bi Polar. If she had been given the right treatment and support to take her medication she would of been able to a parent to my brother and I. It's too late for that now.. We are almost grown up. But if you changed The Mental Health Act and had more institutes to address the many kiwis that suffer mental illness, She could one day, be well.

#2 - Ian Le Bas 2012-04-04 14:19 - (Reply)

I think it's great that you're doing what you can for youth mental health. I'm an adult who suffers mental health issues and i'm hoping there's help there to. I'm not able to work full time but have loved my part time job renovating houses for four years but i've now had to quit as it was costing me more to use my vehicle for the job than i'd make. This has sent my mental health backwards. I worked it out that even tho I was earning $18 an hour, by the time winz took money back, it was costing me over $2 an hour to work, I can't afford this and was going further into debt. A beneficiary that doesn't work doesn't have the high cost of running a vehicle, so i'm better off now financially but i'm unhappy at giving up my job. Anyway it's not just about me, I'm proud of what you're doing for this country in difficult times, good on ya mate

#2.1 - Shaun McNeil 2012-04-05 09:12 - (Reply)

Ian, I understand your circumstances and work in the field of mental health, as well as having personal experience. Perhaps there is a mental health supported employment organisation in your area, that you could access to help re-enter the workplace. Try Wellink Trust in Wellington, Comcare in Christchurch, Pact in Dunedin or Walsh Trust in Auckland.

#3 - Ian Le Bas 2012-04-07 15:19 - (Reply)

Thanks shaun. I live in hastings. Because most of my work is in napier it means alot travel for the few hours I'm able to work each day. I needed to use my vehicle cause of all my work gear. Another problem I found was if I had a serious accident I couldn't claim both invalids benefit and acc, this is so wrong, it means i'd be taking a huge risk getting loans for tools and vehicle repairs. My boss and I still have to pay the acc levies yet can get no return if an accident did happen. It's totally wrong as one is a benefit and one an insurance. My partner also works part time yet they only allow a joint earnings of $100 before they start clawing back. It cost me more than that just to take my partner to and from work, it should be at least $150 each day as that would allow us slowly out of the welfare trap. If i'm right the $100 has been the same for over 20 years severely depleteing the benefit if one wants to work. It's trapping beneficiaries who want to work. It sucks having mental condition especially when your unable to afford to work. My condition also means I have to fight myself each day with traffic, tenants, tiredness from medication and people, it makes me sick to do it but I do it for I love my job and I want to get on as best as I can with my future and I can't be the only one caught in this situation. Thanks for your time, ian

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