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Kiwis Craving Advice to Support Troubled Young People

Shortland Street star Beulah Koale stars as Gabe, grappling with his sense of identity, in the newest Common Ground webisode “Me, Myself and I”.

Media Release

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Kiwis Craving Advice to Support Troubled Young People

• Community upskilling essential say experts and three quarters of Kiwis
• 8 in 10 said information, tools and tips make a difference in ability to help
• Common Ground website NZ’s only resource dedicated to informal supporters

Research released today by Common Ground, has revealed another side to New Zealand’s youth mental health issues – the challenges faced by the 70% of Kiwis who say they have helped a young person in their family, whanau, friendship circle or community who was going through a tough time.

The overwhelming majority of Kiwis (74%) surveyed said it’s the responsibility of the community, not just the immediate family, to support young Kiwis who are experiencing personal issues however only 23% said they felt they could help out a lot with 15% saying they would like to help but don’t know how or don’t feel equipped to help.

Common Ground, a dedicated website for those helping troubled young people is part of the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project and developed with collaboration from the Mental Health Foundation, Youthline, Skylight, Innovate Change and Curative.

Dr Theresa Fleming, University of Auckland Psychological Medicine senior lecturer and youth mental health advocate, said the new research showed that communities really want to help.

“Mental health is not just up to the experts. If family, friends and communities reach out, then no-one needs to struggle alone. This research highlights that Kiwis do care, and with a little info and support all of us can make a difference.”

When it came to facing a situation where people wanted to help but didn’t have the information or tools to do so, one in four Kiwis felt helpless, frustrated, anxious and upset, with the feeling of frustration being the most prominent emotion (38%). 18-24 year olds in particular said they felt helpless (47%) and anxious (44%) without the tools to help, an especially significant insight as a friend or sibling can often be the first port of call for a young person reaching out.

One in five Kiwis said they would look online to seek advice; the second choice behind family or parents, while over 80% of Kiwis agreed that if there were information, tools, resources and strategies to help support young people, it would make a difference to how they could help.

Moira Clunie Common Ground project manager said the initiative is unique in that it brings together youth-focused organisations to answer to the appetite for information, tools and strategies, created and curated just for New Zealanders.

“No one person or organisation has all the answers about how to support young people to grow up well. Common Ground fuses together youth services, research evidence and advice from real people who have supported young people through hard times.”

The Common Ground website provides space for sharing ideas and experiences, acknowledging the expertise and wisdom of parents, whānau and young people themselves. People can connect by sharing their own experiences and suggestions about supporting young people. A special phone and text service and information pack service are also available at no cost.

The research, conducted independently with 1,000 adults from around the country, co-incides with the release of a new webisode focusing on the challenging topics of sexuality, identity and bullying, starring Shortland Street and feature film actor Beulah Koale.

The Common Ground web-series explores themes that are relevant to the mental health and wellbeing of young people, and are reflective of real-life scenarios.


About Common Ground:

Common Ground aims to ensure parents, families, whānau and friends of young people have easy access to information that will help them support young people to manage hard times, and enjoy positive mental health and wellbeing.

The website, phone line and information pack service give whānau access to information, tools and support, so they can assist young people to get the right kind of help when they need it.

Common Ground is a collaborative initiative, which has been produced by the Mental Health Foundation, Skylight, and Youthline, with support from Curative, and innovate change. Common Ground is an initiative of the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project.

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