Study identifies four key factors affecting youth mental health

New research has highlighted the importance of incorporating the voice of youth into mental health policy.

The findings of a report ordered by the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission show listening to young people is key to understanding and addressing our poor mental health statistics.

Just look around - modern society is filled with stress, anxiety and social isolation. And it will come as no surprise that it's compromising the wellbeing of young New Zealanders.

"The cost of living's really going up and it's kind of getting out of hand," one person told Newshub.

"Insecurities, climate change, a lot of political changes, people feel unsafe," another said.

"Social media and the internet connectivity - it can be hard to break away," a third said.

"Things lately, since COVID feels a bit more isolated," a fourth added.

A new study has identified the four key factors affecting youth wellbeing and subsequently their mental health.

An uncertain future due to inherited social and economic challenges and climate change

Racism and discrimination

Social media and online safety

Whanau wellbeing and an inter-generational disconnect.

"The more we understand about those drivers of distress and wellbeing for young people, the more we can target our actions in terms of prevention, education and addressing those futures," Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission CEO Karen Orsborn said.

And although there is no so-called 'quick-fix', incorporating the voice of youth into mental health policy is one action, many say, that should be an urgent priority.

"If we really want as a country to have a sustainable mental health strategy, that is really effective for addressing this challenge of rising rates, we need to be listening to young people and making their voice the heart of what we're doing and our policy," said Auckland University research fellow Dr Jess Stubbing.

The researchers have summarised more than 100 reports - and have come up with one big takeaway.

"If we aren't setting them up well now to cope with mental health challenges and come through a tough period of time, we're failing future generations of this nation and robbing ourselves of a much brighter future," Dr Stubbing said.

A future that should we choose not to be proactive may be bleak for our rangatahi.