Background to the Youth Mental Health Project

The Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project (YMHP) was launched in 2012 and aims to help prevent the development of mental health issues and improve young people’s access to youth mental health services.

The project is made up of 26 initiatives phased to deliver improvements for young people.  

The Youth Mental Health Project responds to a report from the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Improving the Transition: Reducing Social and Psychological Morbidity During Adolescence. This report raised concerns about mental health issues in the period when young people move from childhood to adulthood including depression and other mental health disorders, cannabis use and harmful use of alcohol, and youth suicide.

The project is designed to address many of these concerns for young people aged 12–19 years:

  • in their families and communities
  • at school
  • the health service
  • online.

The Ministry of Health is leading and coordinating the multi-agency project and working with the ministries of Education, Social Development, and Te Puni Kōkiri. Each agency is responsible for implementing initiatives within their sector. The initiatives include:

  • increasing school based health services
  • increasing youth workers in low decile schools
  • expanding primary mental health services
  • implementing an internet based e-therapy tool
  • reviewing how well services are integrated across the schools, health care and the community, and making recommendations for improvement.

Some initiatives are new and others are an expansion of existing services to improve access for young people. The project is being closely monitored and evaluated to ensure implementation is on track, to identify where improvements can be made, and to measure achievements against expected outcomes.

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