The Detail: The issues with mental health support and services in New Zealand

“With long term consequences to employment, to learning, to relationship building… to being satisfied with their lives.”

It’s estimated one-fifth of New Zealanders will experience a mental health challenge at any one time, a figure that extrapolates in young people to about 160,000.  

The services are not there for them. 

Today on The Detail, Sharon Brettkelly speaks to Josiah Tualamali’i, a 25-year-old high achiever who has gone through depression and changed direction in life to help others in the wellbeing and youth governance area. 

He talks about the need for not just doctors and nurses, but others with lived experience to help support people going through mental struggles, and culturally appropriate services which are sorely lacking now. 

As well, there’s the issue of access to services depending on where you are, and long waits for help. 

“Who are we to tell someone who’s feeling very lonely, or who might be thinking about suicide, ‘we can’t help you right now’,” he says. 

“The vibe that that sends to someone – ‘you’re not that important’, or ‘not important at the moment’ is really challenging, particularly when we’re also encouraging people around the country to ‘reach out for help’ or ‘turn to someone when you’re experiencing distress’. Those two things don’t really join together well.”

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