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Child and Youth Mental Health – New Report Uncovers ‘Alarming’ Data

Family First's latest report Child and Youth Mental Health: why New Zealand's young lead the developed world in poor mental health uncovers data from a number of public service and academic papers that would never otherwise see the light of day.


In 2020 UNICEF ranked NZ last in 38 developed countries for child mental well-being. In exploring that claim the report confirms not only does NZ lead the world in teen suicide but 22% of surveyed children who have had contact with Oranga Tamariki had attempted suicide within the last 12 months. For Māori, the proportion increased to 29 percent. Victoria and Auckland University researchers described the incidence as 'alarming'.


In another evaluation report, Oranga Tamariki describes Family Start service providers - who work with pregnant women and mothers with young children - telling them, '…the alcohol and drug issue is prolific/increasing' and how one provider 'is developing a map of local methamphetamine or ‘P’ labs to help keep their workers informed of safety risks.'


A research team from the University of Auckland which studied substance use during pregnancy reported, 'Māori women are more likely to use Meth intravenously, which predicts poorer neurobehavioural outcomes for infants at 24 months of age … Māori may be less likely to seek help for substance use problems due to normalisation of use within whānau...' The same researchers claim that 'a quarter of expectant mothers drink at levels likely to be harmful to the developing embryo before realising they are pregnant.’


Because alcohol, cannabis, meth and opiates cross the placenta and impact fetal development the risks of developing mental disorders are higher amongst exposed babies. This environment marks the beginning of elevated risk. Adverse childhood experiences (commonly referred to as ACEs) such as family violence, transience, multiple maternal relationship changes, which can trigger negative neurological responses accumulate as children grow to adolescence.


Yet another group from Victoria University found that NZ youth self-harm at significantly higher rates than those in other developed countries, reporting, 'between a third and a half of our young people hurt themselves before they leave school. In the international context, this is a lot – on average, about 20% of young people around the world hurt themselves.'


Two international surveys - PISA and TIMS - found NZ rates of bullying are the highest in the OECD, while the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study recently reported that over 200 children (4 percent) were being 'hit or hurt' almost every day.


Far too many New Zealand children grow up with mayhem and material deprivation blighting their lives. But that's not all. There is a second group affected by more recent developments such as social media-driven poor self-image, heightened sensitivity to parental and/or peer pressure, fear of failure, climate change anxiety and confusion over sexual and gender identity.


Unfortunately, the report's many statistics collected from the New Zealand Health Survey, Mental Health and Addiction Services monitoring reports, Pharmac, DHBs, various longitudinal studies, Oranga Tamariki, MSD and Youth 2000 surveys confirm significant upward trends in mental disorders and the consumption of antidepressants and antipsychotics.


The report explores what has changed in NZ and wider contemporary society, and concludes that a reversal of this upward surge demands a wider appraisal and acknowledgement of societal changes that have lessened the likelihood children will experience material and emotional security and stability throughout their formative years. If children were genuinely placed at the centre of the family, given time, given unconditional love, given space to explore but surety to return to ... there may still be no guarantees. But the odds of that child developing good mental health will massively increase.





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33 Comments


The only word for this is disturbing.

Why do you think our Maori MP's are the way they are.

They unfortunately have been part of this behaviour.

I guess they aren't the only ones in this predicament.

Where to from here????

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With reference to the second group- agree with posts around this climate of heightened anxiety around our children's futures spawned by the disinformation from MSM, social media and school curriculum activism. The hysterical premise that there will be no future for our kids- the planet is dying, no point in having a family, and gender is mutable: has left families in tatters as young impressionable minds (with no idea of historical cycles of surpassed, nullified dystopian deadlines) struggle to put it all into perspective. It's on us adults to provide a stable, resilient front against the doomsayers. The game is up, time for fantasy is over, the world is plentiful, and cyclical. Our biggest threat comes from the geopolitical, open…

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Replying to

Agree Gordon, Families have to protect their young, from critical race theory amongst other insidious and overt threats. Some Parents have drawn their line in the sand previously. Other Parents are looking closer at curriculum, not before time, and are not always liking what they see. This is a major departure to the traditional "trust" model- of Teacher knows best. And this loss of trust is on government ideologue hands.

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Here's a curve ball.

I hear we have the most malnourished pets NOW

We ARE the worst at everything.

No improvement.

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Stephanie Hind
Stephanie Hind
Sep 06, 2022

You know, the person who manages to nail a lot of the cause and effect of these kind of social problems is Thomas Sewell.

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Replying to

A house of cards, think of Christchurch and no one to pick up the pieces.

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Aaron Shanahan
Aaron Shanahan
Sep 06, 2022

This is the problem, for me. It's twofold.

Children are continually exposed to needless fear, promoted as fact, at school, and, sadly, by deranged parents. The climate change con is a perfect example. The covid con is also another example.

Breed fear into children ... the sum total is endlessly malleable adults, without critical thinking , that behave reactively.

And will automatically swallow, without question, any lie the " authorities" present as the truth, as gospel.

The other?

Over the past 30 years, maybe longer, to be really bloody blunt, we've become a nation of bludgers, whingers, and do-nothings. Taught to think that only the government is our savior.

I hate this, with a passion.

The government are there to…


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