Mental health and wellbeing of youth in our communities

Being a teenager can be a roller coaster. Sometimes life’s fantastic, there’s so much to look forward to and the future looks bright. The next moment it all comes crashing down and it seems like nothing’s going right. Parents, teachers, doctors and other adults often say that these ups and downs are “just part of growing up.”

Because it’s a time of many changes and challenges, it’s really important to keep a check on our mental health during this time. Having good mental health allows us to:

  • Develop a sense of who we are; our identities, values and beliefs;
  • Cope with the intense emotions we’re feeling;
  • Work out how to best get on with the people around us;
  • Get by at school, work and home;
  • Have respect for ourselves and others;
  • Express what we’re thinking and how we’re feeling; and
  • Accept responsibility for our own thoughts and actions.

Adolescence is also a time when we’re at risk of developing mental health problems, because of:

  • Changes in our relationships with family and friends;
  • Pressure to succeed at school;
  • The need to work out who we are and where we fit in;
  • Feelings of embarrassment or self-consciousness because of puberty, our changing body shapes and not living up to a certain image;
  • The stress associated with moving out of home and having to sort things out for ourselves;
  • Peer pressure;
  • Experimentation with alcohol and drugs; and
  • Worries about sexuality.

For most people, these are a normal part of growing up. Mental illness, however, is not a normal part of growing up. It’s important to distinguish between mental health problems and life’s flat spots. Depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts may be caused by a combination of some of the things listed above (or many others), but they are mental illnesses, not just a tough time.

Mental health problems often start when we’re young and it’s important to recognise them and get treatment early in order to have a successful and long lasting recovery. If left untreated they can lead to long-term health problems, as well as stop us getting on with our lives and being all that we can be as adults.

Source: Youth Beyond Blue (Australia)




Download or order resources from the Community Health Information Centre.


For additional information, contact:

Psychiatric Emergency Line
0800 920 092

Suicide Crisis Helpline
0508 828 865

Depression Helpline
0800 111 757

0800 37 66 33
Free text to 234

What’s Up for 5 to 18 year olds
0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm).

0800 LifeLine
0800 543 354

For more information, contact:

Anna Reihana
Ph +64 3 687 2600

Ph:+64 3 768 1160

Common Ground: An innovative project to help young people

Common Ground aims to ensure parents, families, whānau and friends of young people have easy access to information that will help them support young people to manage hard times, and enjoy positive mental health and wellbeing.

The website, phone line and information pack service give whānau access to information, tools and support, so they can support young people to get the right kind of help when they need it.

Visit the Common Ground website for more information.



SPARX e-therapy for young people

SPARX is an online game-style tool to help young people develop skills to deal with feeling down, depressed or stressed.

The self-help e-therapy tool teaches young people the key skills they need to help combat depression and anxiety.

The SPARX website also offers a mood quiz to help young people identify depression and information on where to get help.

Phone support from professional counsellors is available to SPARX users on 0508 4 SPARX.

Page last updated: 11/01/2021

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