Our Intentions: Looking at the effectiveness of mental health and addiction services for young people

4 August 2022: We’re looking at how effectively government agencies are working together to understand and meet the mental health and addiction needs of people aged 12 to 24 years.

Mental health and addiction issues are common in New Zealand. Young people are particularly at risk of experiencing poor mental health or well-being, and there is evidence that the problem is getting worse.1

The mental health and addiction system for young people is complex. Young people who require treatment or support for mental health and addiction issues might access services from a range of places. These include GPs, schools, tertiary education institutions, non-government organisations, iwi, employment services, specialist mental health and addiction services, and services accessed through the justice and care and protection systems. Multiple government agencies are involved in the funding and delivery of mental health and addiction services for young people.

It is important that all parts of the system work well together so young people can access timely and appropriate mental health and addiction services.

What we’re focusing on

Our performance audit will look at how effectively government agencies are working together to understand and meet the mental health and addiction needs of people aged 12 to 24 years.

We will talk to a range of government agencies with responsibilities for funding or providing mental health services for young people or that are associated with significant entry points into the system for young people. These are the Ministry of Health, Te Whatu Ora, Te Aka Whai Ora, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Social Development, New Zealand Police, Oranga Tamariki, and the Department of Corrections.

We will ask service providers about how well the system is working for young people. Our audit will combine a national-level focus with a sample of two regions, one rural and one urban.

We will also talk with young people about how mental health and addiction services are working for them, and how they think the system could be improved.

The difference we expect to make

Our work will provide an independent view to Parliament and the public on how effectively government agencies are working together to meet the mental health and addiction needs of young people.

Our work will aim to highlight examples of good practice, and, where necessary, identify areas for improvement.

Our work might identify changes that government agencies can make to improve the way they work together to better understand and meet the mental health and addiction needs of young people.

We expect to complete this work in mid-2023.

Please use the feedback form on the right if you’d like to speak to a staff member about this performance audit, make a suggestion, or ask a question.


1: Fleming T et. al (2020). Youth19 Rangatahi Smart Survey, Initial Findings: Hauora Hinengaro/Emotional and Mental Health. The Youth19 Research Group: University of Auckland and Victoria University of Wellington.