The Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project (YMHP) has resulted in positive changes, better outcomes and improvements to service delivery for young people in New Zealand. More than 180,000 young people have been reached and more services and resources are now available to identify, support and treat youth with mild to moderate mental health issues.
Providing young people with the right intervention at the right time is particularly important to assist them successfully transition into adulthood and prevent the need for more specialist services.
It is estimated that 1,764 youth experienced a change from having mild to moderate mental illness to being free of mild to moderate mental illness.
Based on the evidence and evaluation it is proposed that work continues with further investment in a number of the Youth Mental Health Project initiatives and a cross-government approach.
The Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project was established in 2012 as an investment of approximately $64 million over four years in the prevention and early intervention for youth aged 12 to 19 years with, or at risk of, mild to moderate mental health problems.
The Ministry of Health led and coordinated the multi-agency project working with the Ministries of Education, Social Development and Te Puni Kōkiri.
The evaluation was completed by the Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (Superu) and includes a qualitative evaluation, involving in-depth case studies and a cost-benefit analysis.
Youth Mental Health Project achievements
- School based health services have been expanded to 44 decile 3 schools and above schools so that 20,000 students have access to services compared with 5,000 in 2012.
- 188 secondary schools are participating in Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) School-Wide which is 54% of all NZ secondary schools (as at June 2016). PB4L School-Wide showed a decrease in behavioural incidents and an increase in retention of students.
- Over 9,000 HEEADSSS (Home, education/employment, eating, activities, drugs, sexuality, suicide/depression and safety) wellness checks were administered to Year 9 students as part of school based health services in 2015/16.
- Youth primary mental health services were made available across the country in all 20 DHBs. In the past year, approximately 15,800 12 – 19 year olds were seen by primary mental health services across New Zealand – 4600 of these were Māori youth and 1200 Pacific youth (July 2015 – July 2016).
- 102 Canterbury schools are engaged with the school based mental health team to address emerging mental health issues in Canterbury.
- Shorter waiting times for youth alcohol and drug services – 87% seen within 3 weeks exceeding the national waiting times target of 80% (April 2015 – March 2016).
- An online, e-therapy tool called SPARX was set up for young people with depression. Since the launch in April 2014, approximately 5,000 12 – 19 year olds registered to use SPARX
- Youth worker’s provided support services to at-risk students in low decile (1-3) secondary schools.
New reports on Health-led initiatives are available on this site:
Find out more about the Youth Mental Health Project.