Young people experiencing acute mental distress need age-appropriate care
Too many young people experiencing acute mental distress are being admitted to adult inpatient mental health services, and this practice needs to stop. This is according to today’s Te Hiringa Mahara – the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission report, Te Huringa Tuarua 2023: Youth services focus report - Admission of young people to adult inpatient mental health services.
This report examines the trends in admitting young people (aged 12 to 17 years) to adult inpatient mental health services in Aotearoa and reflects on perspectives from young people, whānau and family who have experienced admissions to adult facilities.
“In the last year alone, 159 young people aged 12-17 years were admitted to adult mental health inpatient services – this is one quarter of young people who were admitted for inpatient mental health care. This is unacceptable. It needs to be zero. Adult and youth mental health inpatient services are fundamentally different, and young people experiencing distress should not have to choose services that are not age-appropriate because there is no better alternative close to their whānau and home,” says Te Hiringa Mahara Board Chair Hayden Wano.
“We are pleased to see considerable reduction in the rate of young people admitted to adult inpatient services over the last decade. However, systemic changes are required, with committed leadership and a detailed action plan for responding to young people experiencing crisis and acute distress.
“Young people have told us they want to see a wider range of options to address youth distress across Aotearoa. This includes more age-appropriate community-based services and alternatives to hospital based inpatient mental health care; kaupapa Māori options to meet the needs of rangatahi Māori; and more youth-centric short-term respite services.
“We ask the Government to undertake a thorough investigation of the practice of using adult mental health services for rangatahi Māori and young people.
“Ultimately, we want rangatahi Māori and young people to have the best possible care, give them hope for their future, and to avoid any potential harm that may occur when admitted to adult services. This is only possible if we have age-appropriate supports and services available for young people across Aotearoa.”