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Matt Doocey: Youth mental health crisis is getting worse




There are answers to our growing “shadow pandemic”, so when do you start looking for them?Photo / Brett Phibbs, File


New Zealand has a unique opportunity to be a pioneer in youth mental health. New Zealanders need to seize the moment to pave the way for new ideas and developments on how to respond to the mental health of young people in the pandemic era.

Sadly, in many other countries, horses are bolted. In Australia, mental health professionals call the decline in youth mental health a shadow pandemic. In the UK, their national health services report that youth mental health services cannot cope with the surge in waiting times. About the catastrophic impact of pandemics on youth mental health.

In New Zealand, there are early signs of this shadow pandemic. This should be ringing the alarm bells all over the country.

Matt Doucy.Photo / Attached
Matt Doucy.Photo / Attached

A recent study at the University of Auckland found an increasing demand for pandemic-related youth eating disorder services. Data on antidepressant dispensing recently released by the Ministry of Health in the first year of the pandemic show an unbalanced increase in young people compared to other age groups.

Our DHB says that pandemics have caused a surge in demand that they are struggling to meet, resulting in young people waiting longer than adults.

That is why, as a nation, we should capture the moment and be a pioneer in youth mental health, rather than gaining the worst reputation for youth mental health and suicide.

How to take this opportunity to deal with the mental distress associated with a pandemic, as New Zealand sees early warning signs of an international experience of diminished mental health among young people as a result of a pandemic. We need to lead new ideas and developments on how to respond to. Young people.

Last week I wrote to Health Minister Andrew Little calling for an urgent convocation of the Covid-19 Youth Mental Health Summit.

As a country, we need to be non-reactive and positive in understanding the impact of pandemics on youth mental health and how to best prepare and respond.

The summit needs to bring the best minds around the table to agree on a national action plan on how we best prepare and respond: scholars and researchers, mental health professionals. Homes, advocates, experienced youth, government ministry officials, political representatives between political parties.

We identify early signs of adolescent mental distress as a result of a pandemic, establish additional psychological distress that we expect to encounter, and then gain access to adolescent mental health support. Waiting time you need to agree on a national action plan to increase and decrease.

Adolescent mental health support must both promote mental health and treat mental illness. It also needs to be face-to-face and digital.

It may not be possible to stop the pandemic, but it can reduce the mental distress it causes to young people and give them timely access to the mental health support they need.

• Matt Doucy is a national party spokesperson for mental health and suicide prevention.




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