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Youthline concerned about youth accessibility to counselling

July 31, 2013


Youthline Auckland is concerned about possible decreased accessibility to talk therapies for our most vulnerable young people.

A recent Herald on Sunday article reported that funding for talk therapies is being reduced as more New Zealanders become more comfortable talking about their problems.

Youthline Auckland’s Acting Clinical Services Manager Amber Davies says these changes may undo the  progress that has been made to de-stigmatise help seeking for people suffering from mental health concerns.

“Spending several years creating an environment that enhances awareness of depression, encouraging people to reach out and seek support, then pulling the services and financial assistance to provide access to this support is illogical” says Davies.

As part of a wide range of changes The Ministry of Social Development is reducing the counselling it offers the mentally ill on the disability allowance.

Davies says she is particularly concerned about plans to pull the disability allowance funding for longer term counselling for people on the sickness benefit.

“While for many young people, short term counselling or therapy may be enough to make a positive impact on their lives, there is a subset of vulnerable young people who need more”

“Most often these young people are not engaged in education or employment and have very little or no family support.  Options for long term support are limited and long term private counselling is very expensive.  These young people often have histories of abuse, neglect, family breakdown and without extensive support  during the crucial transition period from school to adulthood are at high risk of becoming disconnected from their communities or worse harming or killing themselves,” she adds.

Long term therapy where skills, coping strategies and processing of grief and abuse can have life changing results says Davies.

Ms Davies recalls a 26 year-old woman who had been in and out of mental health crisis centres for six years, had chronic suicidal ideation and was not engaged in any meaningful activity.  Through the Work and Income disability allowance she was able to access long term counselling at Youthline.  As a result this young woman has been able to enrol in a course and complete it.  This was an achievement the young woman did not think she was capable of.

“A society that understands its population and provides access and choice of services that support people is crucial for creating an inclusive and productive New Zealand,” says Davies.