Christine Macfarlane has seen the effects of the prolonged wait times on youths seeking mental health support.
Based in Christchurch, the NZ Counsellors Association (NZAC) youth mental health portfolio holder says it means families are faced with increasing stress and decreasing support.
“The long wait times for child and adolescent mental health services are unacceptable,” she says in response to a recent Stuff article.
“Waitlists are the norm, and the high number of referrals are difficult for counsellors to manage due to the pressing need for therapy.
“As a result, there is uncertainty and likely deteriorating mental and emotional health of our young people.”
The solution is early therapeutic intervention, to ensure young people have access to services, such as counselling, and support within primary health and community organisations.
“This would ensure young people and their families receive help before a worsening mental health crisis,” she says.
“There needs to be more focus and funding to guarantee therapy services in this area.”
Instead of the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff approach the Canterbury District Health Board currently has in place, Macfarlane urges for preventative care that is focused on wellbeing.
“Young people and their families deserve better, and DHB’s need to work with service providers to address this issue urgently.”