Mental health and wellbeing of youth in our communities

Three young people sitting on a couch in a garage. Source: Health Promotion Agency website.Being a teenager can sometimes feel like a roller coaster. It’s important to know the difference between mental health issues and life’s flat spots – and when to get support or treatment early.

Checking on our mental wellbeing is helpful during times of changes or challenges. Having good mental health allows us to:

  • Develop a sense of who we are including our identities, values and beliefs;
  • Cope with strong emotions;
  • Work out how to 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.

Depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts may be caused by a combination of factors, including:

  • Stressful events like the break-up of parents, or loss of a loved one;
  • A family history of depression;
  • Relationship break-ups or problems with friends;
  • Learning difficulties; or
  • Social isolation such as having no friends or whānau that you feel connected to.

What you can do if you are stuck feeling bad

There are heaps of ways you can start tackling feeling bad, overwhelmed or just plain sad. A lot of them are pretty easy too, like getting some fresh air and sleeping better.

It’s OK to ask for help – especially before your stress or anxiety escalates into something more serious.

Talk to someone you trust like a family member, your doctor or school counsellor.

You can also ask questions or chat anonymously about your feelings with one of many support services just for young people.

Most young people feel okay about puberty, but more girls ‘embarrassed’

Growing up in New Zealand media release: 29th August 2023

Research from Growing Up in New Zealand looks at young people’s experiences of puberty such as physical development at aged 12, feelings about puberty and access to free period products in schools. It shows most young people were either ‘not interested’ or felt positively about puberty, although there were differences by gender and by ethnicity.

“It was so good to see that most young people were comfortable about going through puberty. It suggests that puberty has been normalised. And it was wonderful to find some young people – particularly males – felt excited or proud about puberty. However, we found females were much more likely to feel embarrassed about the physical changes. This suggest more needs to be done to help girls feel okay with their bodies as they change and start menstruating. Positive puberty messaging and education helps, but more can be done,” said Dr Emma Marks, a lead author of the paper and a Research Fellow from the University of Auckland | Waipapa Taumata Rau.

Growing Up in New Zealand is a longitudinal study by the University of Auckland looking at the health and wellbeing of young people, children, and their families.



Download or order resources from the Community Health Information Centre.


For further information, contact:

Kahu Tumai
Ph: +64 3 364 1777

Anna Reihana
Ph: +64 3 687 2600

Ph: +64 3 768 1160

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

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.

This self-help e-therapy tool teaches young people key skills needed to help combat depression and anxiety.

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

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

Page last updated: 15/11/2023

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