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Why are more children and young people seeking help for serious mental health problems?

Nikki MacDonald, Stuff, 2 April 2016

The Ministry of Health’s target is that 80 percent of people needing mental health services should be seen within 3 weeks, and 95 percent should be seen within 8 weeks. (Put another way, those targets mean that 5 percent of suffering young people will not have had an initial appointment after 2 months.)

Ms MacDonald reports that even those targets are not being met in many parts of New Zealand.

Wellington child and adolescent psychiatrist Arran Culver says youth mental health services are stretched, no question. And demand just keeps growing, the College of Psychiatrists spokesman says.

It’s not that young people have different problems from when he started 13 years ago. There are just more of them. More severe depression. More severe anxiety. More self-harm. More suicide risk. Post-traumatic stress; psychosis; personality development problems; autism spectrum disorders – the list goes on.

Cut through the jargon and it boils down to one thing – more young people with “real challenges just coping with day to day living”.

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