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We’re using our collective power for better mental health support, education and services

Last year, our work with the People’s Mental Health Report helped create the political conditions that enabled th independent mental health inquiry.

This year, we supported over 15,000 ActionStation members to make submissions to the inquiry, including one with former mental health commissioner Mary O'Hagan called the Wellbeing Manifesto:

Tash, Kristina and Grant from Mindfulness Education Group and the Kindness Institute want to see more funding for mental skills training for all our children and young people. With the help of Nigel Latta, their submission reached 14,000 signatures.

And lastly, we supported Psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald to recommend making counselling and talk therapy universally available and free to all New Zealanders.

We also supported teenager Zoe Palmer who led a campaign to save a specialist mental health service for young people in her hometown of Nelson.

Zoe on the steps of Parliament facing media, with MPs Paul Eagle (left, Labour) and Gareth Hughes (right, Greens). Photo supplied by the Green Party of Aotearoa.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is a unique service that connects young Nelson people in crisis with specialist staff at all hours and has a proven track record in saving lives. Yet the Nelson-Marlborough District Health Board was threatening the service with closure. It proposed blending the service it provides into the adult service where the staff do not have specialist training in working with young people.

Zoe led her campaign to change the minds of the Health Board members — surveying young people, organising public events to network locals and talk about mental health, connecting with politicians, speaking to media and even making a documentary!

Laura speaking at the INVOLVE conference to 800 youth workers, philanthropists, public servants and policy advisors

Earlier this year, we were approached by the peak body for youth development in New Zealand Ara Taiohi to conduct a piece of research into young people’s perspectives on wellbeing.

In July and August, we gathered the views of more than 1,000 young people (aged 12 - 24) and a handful of youth workers and policy experts about what youth wellbeing looks like in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We turned what we heard into a beautiful report titled Ngā Kōrero Hauora o Ngā Taiohi: A community-powered report on conversations with 1,000 young people about wellbeing that our Director Laura presented at INVOLVE conference to 800 youth workers, philanthropists, policy advisors and young people.

The nine broad themes that rose to the top from the young people and professionals we spoke to in this research are:

  1. The young people we spoke to want better, more accessible mental health services, education and support specifically for young people
  2. Young people we spoke to highlighted economic insecurity, unaffordable housing, student debt and insecure low paid work as significant contributors to their anxiety and stress. Many want a kinder, fairer economy and meaningful secure work
  3. Almost half of the young people we surveyed chose “body image” as one of their biggest concerns. We think this should concern us
  4. The young people we engaged want to see an end to oppression of all kinds - no more racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia or ableism
  5. The young people we spoke with love Aotearoa New Zealand’s natural environment, and they’re worried we’re not doing enough to protect it or our planet
  6. The young people we spoke to value accessible and affordable education, but they worry they are not being equipped with the life skills and knowledge they need to be flourishing in the 21st century
  7. Young people have grown up in the era of the individual, but the taiohi we spoke to carry an innate desire for community and communal spaces
  8. Young people need more great role models in their community, on TV and in positions of power and leadership
  9. Young people should be taught about how to go about making change in their community and country, and people in positions of power need to get better at listening and being responsive
You can check out the video of Laura presenting the report at the INVOLVE conference here:

Our next steps are to work with a coalition of public health organisations to uncover institutional racism within the health sector and advocate for policy change and government funding to choices to fix it. We will also be advocating that the government boost mental wellbeing funding in Budget 2019.

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