Govt to allocate $4m towards mental health services nationwide for rainbow youth

Source: 1News

The Government is set to provide $4 million in targeted nationwide funding to services providing mental health support for LGBT+ young people, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has today announced.

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It comes as part of the Labour Party’s election commitment towards "improving mental health outcomes for children and young people in our rainbow communities," Ardern said today in a statement.

“Young people in the rainbow community are at greater risk of being discriminated against, bullied and harassed. As a result, they have poorer physical and mental health and addiction outcomes and are at greater risk of suicide. We need to change that."

Ardern says participants in the Counting Ourselves survey who were transgender or non-binary indicated they were twice as likely to have attempted suicide in the past year than participants who did not report the same discrimination.

“This is a long overdue commitment to some our most vulnerable youth,” she said.

The Prime Minister said it will take “a range of actions” to better support young people in distress, with ongoing funding to mental health services providing “an important step towards improving the wellbeing of our rainbow communities”.

Of the package, $3.2 million will go towards the expansion of mental wellbeing services focussing on young rainbow New Zealanders.

The remainder of the package will be allocated to topping up the existing Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund, launched in 2019 as an acknowledgement of the New Zealanders convicted for homosexual acts before the law was changed in 1986.

The fund provides support for projects, activities and organisations to improve the mental health outcomes of future generations of the rainbow community, particularly young people. 

Health Minister Andrew Little says today's funding announcement is part of Budget 2019’s $455 million allocated to expand “access and choice of primary mental health and addiction services”.

Little says seven initiatives have received support from the fund to date, including the Be There campaign, which provides resources to the families of rainbow young people and education modules for GPs to provide greater support in providing appropriate care to transgender and non-binary people.

Today’s announcement follows the Government’s work over the past two years to make "snigificant new investments" in mental health support, he said, which includes the establishment of frontline mental health services, a suicide prevention office and support for specialist addiction services, he says.

“Today’s announcement is another component of the work we are doing to address the long-term challenge of mental wellbeing in New Zealand.

“This funding is the latest milestone in a comprehensive programme to support youth and at-risk communities to achieve better mental health and wellbeing outcomes.”

Little says he's "looking forward to making more announcements in the coming weeks".