Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has praised the ongoing work of the National Depression Initiative (NDI) with latest figures indicating increased interaction with young people.
“The drivers of mental health and addiction are complex. In line with international trends, we’ve seen an increase in demand for mental health and addiction services,” says Dr Coleman.
“The NDI has had an increasingly important role in utilising technology to ensure people have access to the help and support they need, at a place and time convenient to them.
“Recent data from the National Telehealth Service shows that particularly young people under the age of 24 are comfortable to engage with support services via SMS, email and web chat.”
Between October - December 2016 contacts to the National Telehealth Service Mental Health and Addiction Team via non-phone channels (SMS, email, webchat) increased to 5,836, up 35 per cent on the previous three months.
Data shows that where an age was provided to the service 69 per cent of contacts on SMS, email and webchat were from people under the age of 24. The 5,836 contacts saw the service exchange 43,768 text messages.
During this time thelowdown.co.nz unique users increased from 23,616 to 25,121, up 6.3 per cent on the previous three months. The website had almost 87,000 users in 2015/2016 and has had around 1.5 million unique users since its launch in 2010.
“The Government has invested an extra $300 million into mental health and addiction services. Taking the total health spend in this area to around $1.4 billion for this financial year,” says Dr Coleman.
“In Budget 2016 we invested $12 million to further increase support for people to access mental health services at an earlier stage.
“This year we will be rolling out a mental health triage service as part of the national telehealth service. This 24/7 service will ensure a mental health response to people who reach out to police, health, social, and community services at a time of mental health crisis or distress.
“The new system will involve a trained expert being on hand to help identify and coordinate appropriate responses, referrals and support."
Notes to Editors
At the core of the National Depression Initiative are two comprehensive websites.
For youth there's thelowdown.co.nz which offers information and tools for handling life issues, stress, depression and anxiety. This section offers a safe forum where teens can ask questions.
For adults there’s depression.org.nz. This includes The Journal, a self-management tool fronted by Sir John Kirwan, which helps people stay positive and make lifestyle changes.
These websites are supported by a free and confidential 24/7 helpline 0800 111 757 and text services 4202 (for adults) or 5626 (for young people). Both phone services are part of the National Telehealth Service.