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Call For A Covid-19 Youth Mental Health Summit

The stress of the pandemic is impacting New Zealand youth, and the Health Minister must hold a Covid-19 youth mental health summit to be best prepared to help them, National’s Mental Health spokesperson Matt Doocey says.

“In New Zealand we are seeing early signs of declining mental health in our youth as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic – which other countries are calling a shadow pandemic.

“Yesterday, I wrote to Health Minister Andrew Little requesting that he urgently convene a Covid-19 youth mental health summit, to bring together the best minds to agree on how we prepare and respond.

“Research from the University of Auckland confirmed a pandemic-related increase in demand for eating disorder services for young people. DHBs are saying the pandemic has driven a surge in demand that they are struggling to meet.

“Ministry of Health data during the first year of the pandemic shows a disproportionate increase for dispensing antidepressants to younger people compared to other age groups.

“A summit is needed to identify the early signs of mental distress in our young people as a result of the pandemic, establish what further mental distress we may expect to encounter, and then agree on a national action plan to increase access to youth mental health support and reduce waiting times.

“We may not be able to stop the pandemic but we can mitigate the mental distress this is having on our young people and ensure they get timely access to the mental health support they need.”

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