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Barnardos welcomes Gov response to mental health inquiry

Barnardos welcomes Government response to Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry, but says strong focus on child and youth mental health is urgently needed

Barnardos says it is pleased to see the Government responding today to the recommendations of the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, but hopes to see a significant focus on child and youth mental health in the Budget tomorrow.

Barnardos, Aotearoa’s national children’s charitable NGO with the vision of ‘An Aotearoa where every child shines bright’, works every day around the country with children and young people, many who are experiencing poor mental health.

Dr Claire Achmad, Barnardos’ General Manager Advocacy, says that the organisation “sees first-hand every day through our services such as 0800 What’s Up and Mana Ake the negative impact of poor mental health on Aotearoa’s children and young people. We believe that urgent change is needed. Rather than being the country in the OECD with the highest rate of youth suicide – which disproportionately affects Māori – we want to see Aotearoa become a country where every child and young person has good mental health. This is essential for children to thrive in childhood and adolescence and to develop to reach their full potential.”

Dr Achmad says that Barnardos “strongly welcomes the commitment articulated today by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on behalf of the Government to transforming its thinking and approach to mental health and addiction. It is good to see that the Government has accepted or is continuing to consider the majority of the recommendations in He Ara Oranga, the Inquiry’s report.”

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However, Dr Achmad says that “Barnardos emphasises that it is essential that tomorrow’s Wellbeing Budget delivers significant investment in supporting better child and youth mental health outcomes. The lives and wellbeing of Aotearoa’s children and young people depends on it.”

Dr Achmad says that Barnardos is pleased to see that the Government has said it is urgently working on finalising a new national suicide prevention strategy, and that an independent mental health and addiction commission will be established. “These systems changes are important pieces of the puzzle; they should help develop an environment in Aotearoa where mental health is improved over time. But when it comes down to it, our children and young people desperately need to be able to rely on mental health support and prevention that is accessible, effective and timely. At the universal level, efforts to develop good mental health have to start in early childhood and continue from there. Government investment is needed to help make that happen, and bolstering the health and sustainability of our mental health workforce is also crucial.”

Dr Achmad says that Barnardos believes that “New Zealand’s goals and aspirations for our children and young people must be high, and children and young people themselves should have high aspirations and a strong sense of hope for their lives and futures. Barnardos has these high aspirations and we will continue supporting children, young people and their families and whānau to experience hauora and holistic wellbeing. In tomorrow’s Budget, we are looking for a strong focus on supporting every child and young person to experience positive mental health and wellbeing, and to grow up in homes and communities where their families and whānau are mentally healthy and well. This must include a connected approach to supporting better child and youth mental health by focusing on the underlying drivers of mental health distress and suicide, such as poverty, abuse, violence, and discrimination.”


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