This 2019 research aimed to measure youth health and find out what issues young people are facing at the time (online survey involving around 400 16-24yr olds across NZ).
Key findings include:
- The proportion of youth feeling they are positively perceived by the wider community is similar to 2016, although more are in the higher levels of feeling positively perceived. 16-17 year olds and Māori / Pacific Islanders are less likely to feel the community views young people positively.
- The majority of youth agree they would know where to get support, and could support their friends through tough times, although younger teens much less likely to know where to get support if they needed it. However, around 1-in-10 young people don’t feel they have positive ways to cope, would not reach out for help, and don’t think their friends would reach out either
- The biggest issue faced by youth today relate to mental health. Compared to 2016, significantly more young people view suicide as a big issue for their generation.
- Youth are feeling the pressures on them from education, particularly for Māori / Pacific Islanders and younger teens. Pressure from social media, the expectation to succeed and securing employment is also prevalent.
- Compared to 2016, significantly more youth feel they did not receive the support they needed when facing a difficult time. The types of issues youth are likely to seek help for relate to stress, mental health and relationships. Māori / Pacific Island youth are more likely to be seeking help for drugs, suicide, and gangs. Asian youth are more likely to seek help for issues related to racism.
- Family and friends play an integral part in supporting New Zealand youth through difficult times: 80% of youth would know where to go for help and most would go to family or friends if they had a problem. Māori / Pacific Island youth particularly would go to family or whanau for support.
- Face-to-face counselling is still seen as the most important platform to provide support for young people, while telephone help lines and text support are becoming more important in 2019 vs. 2016. Compared to all youth, Māori / Pacific Islanders are more likely to find youth groups and mentoring the best platforms to support young people.
- The internet and social media remains key when searching for information.
- Despite high levels of awareness of support organisations most New Zealand youth have not reached out to an organisation for help before
- There is a feeling of stigma around talking about mental health that many youth feel needs to be overcome, particularly for young males. That coupled with empowering youth at an early age with the tools they need to manage stress and look after themselves and equipping schools to do the same. There is also acknowledgement of the negative role social media can play in young people’s lives.
- Counselling or support from someone non-judgmental who had been through a similar experience would have helped youth who have not felt supported in the past. Authenticity and being asked ‘Are you ok?’ would also help, especially for young people who feel some embarrassment about reaching out.