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High Noon in Owaka Kathrin Stefan Marks 12 Jul 2013 CC BY NC ND 2.0

Help is at hand

Adolescent mental health in rural areas is a multi-faceted issue.

One fifth of young New Zealanders have been affected by depression by the time they reach the age of 18. This affects their mental health in adulthood, but New Zealand also has the highest rate of suicide in OECD countries for young people aged 15-19 years old.

A team of Nursing students investigated health issues in Owaka, South Otago. They found that rural communities face additional challenges for mental health, with fewer opportunities for work and entertainment for young people, the fear of gossip in a closeknit community, and limited access to mental health services. 

They decided to create health promotion resources to improve adolescent mental health. They produced a pamphlet for the teenagers, a caregiver resource, and a fridge magnet, for distribution through the Catlins Area School. They also wrote a contribution for the school newsletter introducing the resources. The Nursing students' hope is that more young people will seek help when needed.

October 2019

Image credit: Kathrin & Stefan Marks, used under Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0