Mental Health Foundation joins call for improved youth services

» 11/02/2009, Posted by Rob Blaikie

The Mental Health Foundation has added its voice to calls for improved youth services following the publication a study into drug and alcohol treatment for young New Zealanders.

Researchers from the University of Otago profiled a sample of young people aged 13-19 years who attended youth alcohol and drug treatment services during 2003 or 2004. The study ? the first of its kind in New Zealand ? was published recently in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

?The study shows that the young people accessing alcohol and drug services have a range of complex needs, including mental health issues, and that their needs aren't always being identified or met,? says Judi Clements, Chief Executive of the Foundation.

?These findings are of real concern, and lend support to our argument for a fundamental change in the way that mental health and addiction services are delivered,? she says.

Last year the Mental Health Foundation, as part of the Mental Health Advocacy Coalition, published the discussion document ?Destination Recovery?, which called for an overhaul of the mental health system that would see people accessing services more readily through their primary health providers, and taking a lead role in their own recovery.

?We believe that this model would lead to better integration of services, and treatment of the whole person so that all their needs can be met,? says Ms Clements. ?We also want services to be easily accessible, and for young people, this means being located in the places they and their family or wh?nau are likely to be or feel comfortable visiting.?

One of the key recommendations that arose from the research was that youth treatment services, whether for addiction or other issues, should involve young people more, by allowing them to engage in the running of the services and be active in the development and management of their own treatment plans.

?We fully support the recommendation that young people should take an active role in their own treatment,? says Ms Clements. ?Empowering people to lead their own recovery is an integral part of our vision for the future. Young people know better than anyone what works for young people.?

The importance of young people actively participating in mental health and alcohol and drug and services was again highlighted in 2007 guidelines published by the Werry Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Workforce Development.


Media inquiries
Pauline Curtis
Communications Officer
Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
09 966 5725 or 021 918 220