$15 million boost for youth mental health welcomed as services inundated during Covid-19 lockdown

Urgent and desperate pleas from social services have been answered today, with the Government allocating $15 million to youth mental health and wellbeing.

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The sector has been inundated with work over the Covid-19 lockdown period. Source: 1 NEWS

The sector had been inundated with work over the lockdown period. With financial support low, many are welcoming the much-needed boost.

“It's been intense, we've had a 50 per cent increase in the number of contacts from young people over this period reaching out to us for help”, said Youthline CEO Shae Ronald.

“We've got a $230,000 shortfall that we are protecting because a number of funders, of course, have turned around and said they're not in a position to fund us anymore.

"We were meant to have our 50th anniversary, actually, on the 9th of May and that was to bring in $100,000 for our helpline. Of course that couldn't happen.”

Youthline will get a share of the funding that’s been allocated for Covid-19 mental health funding.

Source: TVNZ

The Ministry of Health will support Youthline’s most in demand service, it’s text and webchat programmes.

Deputy Director-General for Mental Health Robyn Shearer said it would give other providers tools and resources to help young people manage anxiety caused by the pandemic.

“We’re also reviewing proposals for youth focused services up and down the country that includes youth one-stop-shops and I'm sure Youthline are part of that process," she said.

"So, we expect those contracts to be let very soon and that's good news.

"It's all part of what we've been building up for new services for people.”

But needs are growing in other areas, including construction.

The industry has the highest number of suicides in New Zealand as any other sector.

Mates in Construction, a service that provides support to workers, said stress levels were high after Fletcher Building announced it was cutting 1000 jobs.

“The increase in demand with us since lockdown and during and even post has been quite huge," said Mates in Construction case manager Gloria Vetekina.

"A lot of that is the anxiety around possible loss of losing their jobs and not knowing what the future's going to hold and not knowing how to navigate that.” 

As support lines across the country won’t stop ringing, it seems some calls are yet to be answered.