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More funding needed for teen mental health

More funding needed for teen mental health say Presbyterians

Reports of more young people on the sickness benefit for mental health reasons are a sad reflection on society according to the Presbyterian Church.

“The world should be full of potential for 16-year-olds. Instead, we’ve got a generation of young people that are falling through the cracks. They’re attempting suicide in increasing numbers because they can’t face the pressures of day-to-day life.

“Around thirty 15-24 year olds are admitted to hospital every week in this country as a result of deliberately harming themselves, and two are lost to suicide every week. Is this the future we want for our young people?” says General Assembly Moderator the Rt Rev Pamela Tankersley.

“Research shows that adolescent mental health issues can persist well into adulthood, so prevention is key to avoid creating a society where hurting people go on to hurt themselves and others.

“Today’s under 25s are facing one of the highest teen suicide rates compared with other countries like us,” she says. “We still don’t understand all the factors that lead to these awful statistics, but we’re all part of the solution,” says MrsTankersley who believes that parents, extended family, the Government and wider community all have a big role to play in improving mental health outcomes for Kiwi young people.

The Church will be lobbying for more money to be spent on adolescent mental health this year confirms Mrs Tankersley.

“The Government’s May 2007 $23.1 million investment over the next four years doesn’t go far enough,” she says.

The Church also strongly supports the Government’s anti family violence campaign on the basis that strengthening families is a key way to help young people realise their potential.

The 400-plus Presbyterian congregations around the country take up the challenge of strengthening families and communities in many ways: some run community centres, many host events like community Christmas dinners. There are congregations working with young people providing excellent mentoring programmes and running values-based programmes in schools. Still others provide holiday programmes for young people.

“It’s all part of our response to helping build stronger, more healthy communities for tomorrow,” explains Mrs Tankersley.

ENDS

·More information about what the Church is doing to support young people, see our website: http://www.presbyterian.org.nz/4602.0.html

·Suicide Facts: 2004-2005 data Wellington. Ministry of Health is the source of quoted statistics

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