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Counsellors concerned over young Cantabrians’ wellbeing

Counsellors concerned over young Cantabrians’ wellbeing

Children and young people will be the major victims of the government’s funding cuts to Canterbury’s mental health services, says the New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC).

Christchurch-based NZAC school guidance spokesperson Sarah Maindonald says there is a huge, sustained rise in numbers of young people presenting with mental health issues post-earthquake.

“Despite this, they are cutting funding," Ms Maindonald says.

“We’re all living with daily reminders of what’s been lost, and as research predicted, rates of anxiety, depression and family violence have increased, having a major impact on children’s development and capacity for learning."

Although social development minister Anne Tolley states that funding is available in Canterbury for counselling services, Ms Maindonald says school counsellors haven’t received any extra support since the quake.

Apart from some funds kindly donated by the Red Cross when the earthquake first hit, no extra funding or resources have been given for school guidance counselling, says Ms Maindonald.

“This is despite the fact that students are dealing with a series of traumatic events and the number presenting for counselling has increased by up to a third across Canterbury schools,” she says.

“I know of some students who waited for three months or more to receive specialist help post-earthquake, and it’s just awful seeing them suffer.

“School counsellors are often the first port of call for students needing help, and it’s important that these services are aided.

“I urge the government to consider the needs of school students in Canterbury, and to acknowledge the work of school counsellors in dealing with this steady rise in volume of children who need our help.”


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