New Zealand Labour Party

Youth Mental Health

Labour will:

  • Extend School Based Health Services to all public secondary schools so all schools have a comprehensive youth health service. 

The Issue

Investing in mental health saves lives. It will be a priority for the next Labour-led Government.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of youth suicide in the developed world. National has had nine years to fix the problem. It’s time for fresh thinking to ensure all young Kiwis get the help they need and support for their mental health. 

Labour will extend School Based Health Services in all public secondary schools and ensure all schools have a comprehensive youth health service.

School Based Health Services were introduced by Labour in 2008 and are currently funded for decile 1-3 public secondary schools, teen parent units and alternative education facilities. This funding provides school nurses.

Evidence shows schools where students had access to a health professionals who were on-site as part of a collaborative team had better mental health outcomes. Depression and suicide risk were lower by up to two-thirds. Early intervention works.

Currently, however, the quality of health services provided in secondary schools is variable. Some schools only have basic first aid provision or visiting health professionals from time to time.

The comprehensive school health service Labour will fund equates to 240 nurse hours per 100 students a year with additional GP support available.

What this means, is that a student can go to a health professional in their school and either have all their needs met on-site, or be referred to youth health services, Child & Youth mental health services, or their own doctor.

Extending comprehensive School Based Health Services to all public secondary schools will benefit hundreds of thousands of New Zealand young people. This is a coordinated consistent care approach available from health services in all secondary schools. This has the potential to save lives.

This investment will cost $40 million a year, funded out of Labour’s commitment to reverse National’s $1.7 billion of health cuts.