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Large gaps in our understanding of mental health and substance use in children and young people

A report released by Whāraurau and Te Pou, in partnership with an expert technical rōpū and a research team from the University of Auckland, shows there are large gaps in the available data on mental health conditions and problematic substance use among infants, children and young people (ICY) in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The data we have mostly comes from studies that focus on a few mental health conditions and some aspects of substance use. The data does not cover all ICY, especially infants and those in the care and protection of Oranga Tamariki. Without comprehensive, regular measurement, decisions are being made based on outdated information.

The last prevalence study measuring mental health conditions and problematic substance use was conducted 20 years ago and did not include under 16s.

We want any future prevalence studies to include the mental health experiences of ICY, quantify substance related harm and understand the contextual factors which protect the mental health and overall wellbeing of ICY.

This report can support the design of future studies, ensuring a specific focus on ICY, and using measurement tools that respect different cultures, adapt to local situations, and capture the different experiences of ICY in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is particularly important that future studies are designed to include those ICY who are often left out, or incorrectly represented, like those in the care and protection of Oranga Tamariki and youth justice, disabled ICY, Māori, Pasifika and ICY from the Rainbow community.

You can access the report on our website here.

Download the scoping review Download the executive summary

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