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Help often unavailable for depressed young Kiwis

The New Zealand Association of Counsellors (NZAC) has backed calls for more support for young people dealing with depression.

Spokesperson, Sarah Maindonald, says adolescents are less resilient than adults and need more immediate support when mental health issues arise.

"Adolescents have less ability to wait out their emotional distress than adults, leaving them more vulnerable to delay.

"If young people can't access counselling support when they need it, they tend to give up and that often leads to some form of negative behaviour.

"Sometimes that behaviour manifests itself in self-harm, sometimes it's harming others."

Ms Maindonald cited a University of Auckland survey that showed 29% of girls and 18% of boys had self-harmed in the previous year.

The survey also showed that 21% of girls and 10% of boys had thought of suicide.

For most young New Zealanders, their school guidance counsellor is a first port of call because that's usually their only exposure to, and access to, professional support services, Ms Maindonald says.

"But many students know from experience that they are unlikely to get help in a timely manner, and that raises the whole issue of student to counsellor ratios in schools."

Ms Maindonald said supporting young people to deal with mental health issues is an investment in the wellbeing of our society.

"We do need to catch these problems early and provide help where and when it's needed, so that these young people don't go on to have bigger issues, with more far-reaching consequences, when they are older."

 
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