Video transcript: Meeting the mental health needs of young New Zealanders

Transcript for a video out our report on mental health services for young New Zealanders.

Title: Meeting the mental health needs of young New Zealanders

Rachel Patrick, Senior Performance Auditor

Mental health is the biggest health issue facing young New Zealanders today.

While many young people in New Zealand have good mental health and wellbeing, young people also experience the highest rates of mental distress of any age group.

Some groups of young people are particularly affected by mental health concerns. These include rangatahi Māori, Pacific people, disabled people, and those in the Rainbow community.

Early and effective support for mental health concerns can help reduce the lifelong human and economic costs of mental illness for individuals, whānau, and society.

The government spends close to $2 billion dollars on mental health and addiction services each year. In the Government’s 2019 Wellbeing Budget, young people were one of the priority groups for mental health and wellbeing spending.

Our office wanted to find out what difference this spending is making for young people.

We looked at how well public organisations are working together to understand and meet the mental health needs of young people aged 12 to 24.

We found that despite their high level of need, many young people in distress can’t get support when and where they need it. In a country that prides itself on being a good place to bring up children and young people, this is something we should all be concerned about.

The 2019 funding of new youth-specific primary mental health and addiction services is making a difference, with about 3,000 young people accessing these services each month. In time, this increased investment into primary care might relieve demand for more specialised services.

However, in the meantime, young people in need of specialist support are waiting longer to access specialist services than when the 2019 budget was released.

Many public organisations are involved in supporting young people with mental health concerns. These organisations need to work together better to ensure that these young peoples’ needs are met.

Young people are often expected to fit into services that are designed for adults. Many of the barriers that young people can face in accessing mental health care can be overcome if services and support are designed with them in mind. This means giving young people a greater voice and more involvement in the design and delivery of mental health services.

We also found that public organisations need better information mental health needs to effectively target services and spending.

Our nine recommendations are designed to support a coherent system of mental health services where all young people can access appropriate and consistent care when and where they need it.

Title: Read our report at

Watch the original video.