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New study shows youth depression, drug use decline

Media Statement for Immediate Release
Monday 8 December 2008

New study shows youth depression and drug use declining

People who work with youth are celebrating new statistics that show a general improvement in young people's health since 2001.

The Youth '07 study conducted by the University of Auckland Adolescent Health Research Group surveyed 9,500 students across over 100 schools, and is New Zealand's most comprehensive set of data on young people.

New Zealand Aotearoa Adolescent Health and Development (NZAAHD) executive officer Sarah Helm said the information compares well with the first study in 2001.

"In particular depressive symptoms, suicidal thoughts, marijuana use and smoking have all reduced."

The decline in smoking is supported by an Action on Smoking and Health study, which showed that the number of Year 10 smokers had dropped by 28.6 percent between 1999 and 2006, she said.

"Some nutrition figures have also improved. A positive indicator is that 7% more young people were eating breakfast every day in 2007 compared with 2001."

"We are also very pleased that 92% of young people say they have a parent who cares about them. Having caring adults in a young person's life is an important positive influence for general health and well-being. "

The study also showed that young people thought their families generally get on well, though there was a concern that the number of students witnessing domestic violence had increased.

"Contrary to stereotypes of teenagers that generally regard young people as being uninterested in their family, the survey showed that 45% of teenagers wish they could spend more time with their parents."

Parents were usually unavailable because of work commitments.

"If we want young people to be successful, healthy and thriving, we need to consider our priorities as families, communities and as a society. Family-friendly work policies and wages could help parents make the decision to spend more time with family," she said.

"Family responsibilities don't end when a child turns five. Teenagers need supportive and available parents too," Ms Helm said.


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