Health for youth woes described

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 20/10/2012

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The Government has been accused of paying lip service to youth mental health issues after a Taranaki youth health centre closed and similar centres in Kapiti and Christchurch also appeared to be under threat.

The New Plymouth one-stop youth health service, Waves, closed its doors for the last time yesterday. More than 3000 young people used the service - often a first point of call for those with mental or sexual health problems, unplanned pregnancies or drug and alcohol abuse.

The Christchurch service is struggling financially and Kapiti Youth Support recently reported cuts to its sexual health funding.

The centres are funded by their local district health boards.

Kirsten Smith, at the Wellington centre Evolve, said the one-stop shops provided a place for young people to raise issues they did not want their GP to know about.

In April, Prime Minister John Key launched his Youth Mental Health Project, which boasted a "well-balanced package of initiatives". He said then the Government was putting an extra $11.3 million into primary mental health care that would benefit young people.

He also announced time-limited funding for existing one-stop shops while the Health Ministry "works to make primary care in general more youth-friendly".

Ms Smith said letting a one-stop-shop close after making that announcement seemed "counter intuitive".

Pat Tuohy, the ministry chief adviser on youth health issues, said the one-stop shops were just one primary healthcare provider available to young people.

"We agree they need a greater degree of certainty around funding, and in order for that to happen some will need governance arrangements improved."

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