FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
4 December 2018
Mental Health Report highlights struggles of students and young people
The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) has welcomed today’s release of He Ara Oranga, the report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, saying it is now time to act to turn the tide on poor mental health facing our students and young people.
NZUSA particularly supports recommendations calling for the broadening of access to mental health support, strengthening the mental health workforce, and a whole-of-government approach to wellbeing.
In supporting the recommendations regarding broadening access to mental health support, NZUSA says that too many students and young people are missing out due to long wait times and concern that they are disadvantaging others by taking a counselling session.
“We know from our own research that students are facing unique pressures. We are pleased that the Inquiry has acknowledged the many student voices from our Kei Te Pai report, which highlighted the major triggering factors for stress, depression and anxiety amongst our tertiary student population. It is our generation who are facing the effects of unaffordable housing, economic instability and the growing individualisation in our society.”
“If the Government supports the principle that every New Zealander should have access to mental health and addiction support, then they should prioritise its commitment to free counselling for 18-25 year olds in Budget 2019.”
NZUSA also supports the report’s recommendations to strengthen the mental health workforce.
“We are thankful for the dedicated professionals who support students during a very stressful time in their lives, going through tertiary study. We know that these professionals are overworked and underfunded, and this needs to change. We also know that it is our generation of students and young people who are needed to help grow the mental health workforce. We hope the Government gives serious attention in Budget 2019 to providing more resourcing for this workforce, and for those in tertiary study training in areas such as clinical psychology. In particular, we hope the Government keeps its promise of restoring the postgraduate allowance to support students training in critical areas for the future wellbeing of New Zealand.”
In supporting the recommendation for a whole-of-government approach to wellbeing, NZUSA says that students bring their whole selves to the classroom.
“We know that student brings their whole selves to their classroom, not just their academic abilities. If they are struggling to afford food or pay their rent, are experiencing loneliness, or are experiencing cultural alienation, they cannot succeed academically. We hope that the Government takes up the call for a whole-of-government approach to wellbeing, to really put people and wellbeing at the centre of a range of government services.”
“We look forward to seeing the Government’s response to the Inquiry’s recommendations in the New Year.”