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Youth workers trained to recognise mental health issues will be put into selected secondary schools and Youth One Stop Shops as part of the National-led Government’s youth mental health package, says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.
The package, announced today by Prime Minister John Key, will significantly improve the way the Government deals with young people who have mental health problems.
“I am delighted to be putting specially-trained youth workers into schools to work alongside nurses to help our young people,” says Ms Bennett.
“These youth workers, who will also be put into some Youth One Stop Shops, are well placed to form good relationships with young people and support them through difficult times.”
The Ministry of Social Development will also administer a new contestable fund for non-government organisations to bid for funding to help them get better information out to parents, families and friends who are worried about young people.
“Parents, families and friends have a big part to play in identifying mental health issues in young people close to them,” says Ms Bennett.
“When they are worried about someone they need access to quality information about what to look for and where to get help – we will make sure they get that information.
“There are some great NGOs doing superb work with our young people and their families, and we want to support them in that work.”
The package of initiatives also recognises that young people live in a tech-savvy world and need information and services which keep up with their digital skills.
“It’s time we lifted our game to keep up with the kids,” says Ms Bennett.
“So we’re launching a new public/private Social Media Innovations Fund to help service providers better use social media to reach young people with mental health issues.
“Examples of this could be smart phone apps or Facebook-related programmes.
“The Government will partner with corporations and philanthropists to help support this fund and foster innovative ideas that could result in breakthroughs in this area.
“There are many talented people in this country who want to see young New Zealanders succeed. We need to tap into those resources to make it happen,” says Ms Bennett.
The youth initiatives announced today are designed to provide significantly better, earlier and more modern help for young people suffering from mental illness.
The total contribution to the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health package from Vote Social Development is $12.2 million over four years.