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Gay/lesbian youth "struggling" PM acknowledges

Wed 4 Apr 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News View at NDHA

File photo Prime Minister John Key has made mention of gay and lesbian youth struggling with their sexuality, in announcing an overhaul of mental health services for young people. "I've met gay and lesbian kids who are struggling with their sexuality and suffering from anxiety issues," he has told experts in the field at a gathering at Te Papa in Wellington. "So many kids are on the right track and have high aspirations for their future," Key said. "But I worry about some kids - those who find the transition from childhood to adulthood tough going." Key told the gathering one in five of all young people experience some form of mental health problem during their transition to adulthood. The Youth 07' report found that same-sex attracted youth experience greater levels of depression, suicide and self harm, are less likely to use condoms, and report higher levels of bullying and discrimination, than their straight peers. The Prime Minister has unveiled a $62 million package, which aims to ensure young people with mental health problems get better, faster and more modern help. The package will work in four areas; in schools, online, in families and communities, and in the health system. Nurses and specially trained youth workers will be added to lower-decile schools and will "be well placed to pick up early on those kids who have a mental health issue," Key said. "And being based in schools, these nurses will be easily accessible for young people who might otherwise not go to see someone for help." A positive behaviour school-wide programme will be rolled out in secondary schools, and the Government will check up on how they are going through the Education Review Office. The package also includes several initiatives to modernise the way government reaches mentally ill young people. “We need to lift our game to keep up with these kids, who are quickly adopting new technology like Smartphones or using Twitter and Facebook,” Mr Key said. Along with an overhaul of existing mental health resources, new ideas will be sought through a Social Media Innovations Fund to keep providers of youth services technologically up to date. The package also contains several other initiatives including a lift in funding for primary mental health care, new wait-time targets for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and a new Whānau Ora approach. "Parents can often find it hard to tell the difference between normal teenage behaviour and mild to moderate mental illness," Key said. "To help parents, families and friends we are also going to fund NGOs to get more information out to them about what to look for and where to get help." "The Youth Mental Health package fills gaps in our current system and builds on the good work our mental health professionals are already doing in this area. "We'll be reviewing all of the initiatives in two years' time to ensure we are hitting the mark and helping our young people."    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 4th April 2012 - 12:22pm

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