New mental health fund aims to build rangatahi resilience

By Taroi Black

Rangatahi in Ōtautahi paying tribute to those slain in the 2019 mosque attacks.



Health Minister Andrew Little has announced $10-million for new rangatahi services to access mental health and addiction support.

The minister particularly acknowledged whānau affected by the earthquakes ten years ago and the 2019 terrorist attacks in Ōtautahi.

The rollout for more wellbeing support is part of the $455 million Budget announcement in 2019 targeting youth-specific initiatives.

The mental health and addiction support fund is to be delivered in Bay of Plenty, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Kāpiti Coast, Hutt Valley and Canterbury in the coming weeks.

Today, Little visited Odyssey House Christchurch, which provides rehabilitation services for drugs and alcohol addiction and he’s committed to do the same for rangatahi across Aotearoa.

“A lot of great work has been done to help support the people of Christchurch through very challenging times over the years and that has helped build the resilience of this community”, Little says.

Mid Central service

The service in the Mid Central area is also being delivered by a collaborative, which includes kaupapa Māori providers.

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, Te Puna Ora O Mataatua Charitable Trust was also announced as a recipient in today’s youth package. The trust is the largest regional Māori healthcare provider in the country and serves its whole community with the Tamariki/Rangatahi Resilience Hub and Ngā Mata Wai Ora Counselling & Therapy Hub. 

TPOOM cultural director Haromi Williams says, "We applied for resources so that Te Puna Ora o Mataatua are able to help our rangatahi who are in need because it's not working out for them in schools or even in their respective communities, it is so hard."

The government will also deliver to dedicated kaupapa Māori services in the coming months.

Today's announcement covers services as part of the ‘youth stream’ of Access and Choice.

Māori a priority

Māori are identified as a priority population for all providers in this stream. 

A separate Māori service’ stream is also included as part of Access and Choice. A tendering process has been run for the services and Minister of Health is in final stages of negotiations.

Little says, “The government is serious about making sure New Zealanders struggling with mental health or addiction issues get the help they need as early as possible.”

“As our young people grow into adults, they face a time of rapid change and development and are at the highest risk for the onset of mental health problems and psychological distress. We know these problems have been increasing among our young people for some years, so funding services that support young people is crucial.”