The findings of a comprehensive survey on the health and wellbeing of New Zealand youth busts many myths about young people drinking and using drugs, but shows worrying trends around depression, financial stress and access to contraception, the Green Party said today.
The Youth’12 Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey, published every six years by the University of Auckland, presents the views of 8,500 secondary school students from around New Zealand on a range of issues including education, health and economic wellbeing.
“It is very encouraging to see that rates of binge drinking, marijuana use and smoking have all declined consistently amongst young people since 2001. This will result in great health benefits for young people down the track and busts many of the common assumptions about young people,” said Green Party youth spokesperson Holly Walker.
“However, it is very concerning that young people are reporting higher rates of depression, bullying, and financial stresses in their families.
“The findings are clear that the last few years have been tough on young people financially, and that this is taking its toll on their mental health and living situations.
“Many families are doing it tough in the current economic climate and urgent priority needs to be given to policies to address family income, poor housing, and youth employment.
“Problems like knowing that their parents are worrying about not having enough food, or having to use the lounge as a bedroom because of household crowding, are not things that secondary school students should have to worry about.
“Many report being unable to find a part-time job, which is consistent with high rates of youth unemployment. Government policies like the 90-day trial period and youth rates won’t have helped.
“It’s also very concerning that of those young people who were sexually active, rates of condom use and access to contraception were very low. It is clear we need government leadership to improve youth access to contraception,” said Ms Walker.