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Our Youth: The Leaders of Tomorrow

Youth Health Newsletter


Latest Trends in Youth Health and Wellbeing


Vol 17, Issue 1, Feb 2016

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Paul Lesoa

Teens Backing Their Communities

Two South Auckland teens are promoting the strengths of their communities and how they make Auckland, and New Zealand, a better place.

In the last few months Paul Lesoa from Mangere and Jasmine McKenzie from Papakura, both 15 years of age, have publicly spoken about the communities they live in and how they, as young people, will continue to strengthen them in the future.

Third generation Samoan-New Zealander Paula Lesoa wrote a short article, called The Voice of Mangere's Future, where he spoke of his pride in Mangere’s Pacific community. He wrote:

"Looking from the outside in people label us as the Compton of Auckland. There are people who may call us 'overstayers'. Well, if I'm that, then I'm going to overstay and change this country for the better. I'm going to change Mangere's reputation to a good one."

He also spoke out against people who criticised his school, Mangere College, saying "The schools in Mangere may not have the flashest facilities or have the luxuries that other schools have but we have a bond, we can relate to each other, we all have a common goal and that's to make our parents proud."

This article, which was originally posted on Mangere community Facebook page 275 Times, has since gone viral. Three days after the article was published on the 3rd of May, it had been viewed more than 50,000 times, and Paul’s article was featured in the New Zealand Herald.

"I wasn't expecting that much attention," Paul said. "I hope that people can read it and I hope it relates to them."

Like Paul, Jasmine McKenzie was also concerned about negative attitudes to her Papakura community. After several violent crimes, including the fatal shooting of a local man, Jasmine also went to Facebook, posting "Papakura isn't exactly the 'positive Papakura' we were hoping for but I have an idea that could help change it but I'm going to need help."

Jasmine went on to organise a series of events aimed at creating a more positive neighbourhood. She organised an after-school meeting so young people could talk over ideas about how they could "keep Papakura positive". They included a ‘Papakura's Got Talent in the Park’ event, a blanket drive for the homeless and a community clean-up.

These students put their ideas into action, organising and promoting a ‘Picnic in the Park’ which took place on April 10th. Jasmine's story was also profiled on the Papakura Courier and

"I want to improve the community and get everyone together so that we can get to know each other better … I want to make a change," Jasmine says. "Many people outside the community look at us and think it's all bad, but I would say to them, don't judge a book by its' cover."

Both Paul and Jasmine’s actions have been recognised by their schools and communities. "Paul's saying about the community has resonated with so many people," said 275 Times editor Justin Latif.

Positive Papakura chairwoman Dawn Robbie also observed "I think it is awesome what she [Jasmine] is doing with the youth - it has to start somewhere and in a year's time it may grow into something beautiful."
SYHPANZ Conference Wellington July 28-29

Mentoring Youth in Our AEs

More vulnerable youth in alternative education will be mentored under an innovative youth mentoring programme provided by the University of Auckland.

Designed by their colleagues at Colorado State University, the Campus Connections programme aims to boost meaningful learning opportunities for vulnerable youth in alternative education (AEs).

Dr Pat Bullen and Dr Kelsey Deane, specialists in youth development and youth mentoring at the Faculty of Education and Social Work, will lead this project. A $220,000 Vodafone NZ Foundation grant will support them to work collaboratively with existing programmes and community partners to develop a culturally-based version of the Campus Connections mentoring model for Aotearoa New Zealand.

The programme is a natural extension of Dr Bullen’s Fellowship work. "During my World of Difference year, I examined many youth mentoring programmes and Campus Connections certainly stood out. I was completely overwhelmed by the programme’s ability to positively impact vulnerable youth by uniquely combining 50 hours of intensive one-to-one mentoring, with social group-based activities and on-site therapy."

She says the NZ Youth Mentoring Network has identified a significant gap in service provision for high-risk youth, including those who are involved in alternative education.

Campus Connections Aotearoa will be launched at the Faculty of Education and Social Work in the second semester of 2017. During the first year, approximately 30 young people aged 12-18 in alternative education will receive 48 hours of mentoring over a 12-week period from student mentors, counsellors and social workers.  Each young person will then be supported by supervised social work students to transition into other social services, programmes, educational and/or employment opportunities.

In addition to supporting vulnerable young people, Campus Connections Aotearoa will provide multiple opportunities for students studying counselling, social work and/or youth work to experience authentic youth mentoring, case management, transition support, and counselling experiences.
Adapted from the University of Auckland website.

Aunty Dee – Supporting Young People When Life Sucks!

An online 'aunty' is the latest weapon in the fight against depression in young people.

Aunty Dee is free website developed by Le Va, a non-government organisation that works across mental health, addictions, public health and disability.

Auty Dee aims to help Pacific and Maori youth aged 15-24 years old by providing a step-by-step structured approach to problem solving.

While on the surface Aunty Dee might look like many of the other mental health websites available, it is actually a form of e-therapy that is very easy to use and appropriate for a number of life concerns. The website uses online forms to guide the user through Structured Problem Solving, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and has been shown to reduce depression symptoms in both adults and young people.

Participants are encouraged to list their problems, generate solutions, and decide on a plan of action, all by answering questions on the website. Aunty Dee doesn’t generate content or provide answers; it guides users to think about and explore your problems in structured way.

The website also helps the user to focus on only one problem at a time, and choose one solution to focus on, which keeps the process simple. As one user observed "It’s easy. I solved one problem in 5mins so quick. And I liked how it didn’t have too many questions or heaps and heaps going on. Thank you."

Users can access Aunty Dee on any mobile phone, tablet, laptop or PC. Information on getting urgent help is available, and may even ‘pop-up’ on the screen if the user types in certain words encourage users to seek further help.

The website is called Aunty Dee because in many Pacific and Maori communities young people often go to their aunties or an aunty type figure for help. However, ‘Aunty Dee’ may also appeal to young people from a variety of backgrounds, who may also benefit from the problem solving process.

Le Va chief executive Monique Faleafa would like to see Aunty Dee in every school and become a part of everyday language.

"If you have a problem go and talk to Aunty Dee. It won't be the holy grail of solving all of life's problems but it's one proven tool to help us deal with stressful life experiences."

Aunty Dee was officially launched on 21 April 2016 at #GPS2016 For more information visit or download the information sheet.
NZ Youth Mentoring Conference Tuesday 14th June

Register Here

Putting petrol in car

Storytelling Promotes Diabetes Health Literacy

Diabetes is one of New Zealand's biggest health challenges with an estimated 257,000 people currently living with the disease. Last year the number of people identified as having suspected diabetes grew by nearly 40 people each day.

"Diabetes is a growing problem, especially in Counties Manukau," says Pene Pati, Registered Chronic Care Management Nurse, at South Seas Health Care. "We need to talk about health literacy and the role of culture in the health outcomes of Pacific people."

Pene is of Samoan decent and practices in the heart of Otara, one of New Zealand’s most ethnically diverse and fastest growing areas. Otara exemplifies the diversity of Manukau communities. About half of the population is below 20 years and Otara has a high population of Maaori and Pacific peoples. Otara is a vibrant community that, despite low incomes, takes pride in their diversity, community spirit, and their young people.

Pene talks passionately about the tools he uses to reach through the health literacy divide and engage with his more than 300 patients to increase their understanding of diabetes and how to effectively manage their health.

"I talk about cars. When we have a car, we need the petrol to make it go. The faster the car goes the faster it uses up the petrol. When it is nearly empty the driver starts to panic and look for some money to fill up again so that they can then finish what you needed to do."

"With diabetes, it is similar. ... Like when your car petrol is nearly empty or on 'E', your sugar is almost at 'E' as well."

"You as a patient don’t know what is going on. The doctor knows and he gives you the medicines as he cares about you. The best part is that the patient goes away thinking this is the start of their life, they can understand more about their body and what they can do to maintain the right amount of 'petrol'."

Pene routinely follows up with patients on the phone, calling them into the clinic when needed.

"Sometimes they think because the doctor is not involved that everything is alright, that’s why I keep telling them diabetes is forever. But I am very happy with my group. They all seem to listen, see the light and begin to make the steps toward change."
Apple with charger attached

NZ First Virtual Health Service

Waikato patients are being offered the chance to speak to hospital doctors from home on their smartphone with a new 'Virtual DHB' service.

Patients can use video conferencing or text chat with their doctor to monitor their condition from home or work, rather than traveling to hospital, as long as their doctor is registered and deems it appropriate.

The Virtual DHB, powered by HealthTap, also has a wealth of health information available on an app, all approved by doctors. People can check out symptoms, conditions and treatments and get health information. Patients will also be able to book an appointment with their specialist, share a medical photo with them, send a direct message to their doctor, or view their health record on the app.

Waikato District Health Board says its new service, the first of its kind in New Zealand, will save many patients from having to travel to hospital appointments.

Waikato DHB is currently in the process of registering staff doctors with this service, and is talking to GPs and other community organisations about opportunities this service can offer their patients too.

Waikato DHB chief executive Dr Nigel Murray says: "Over 60 per cent of people in the Waikato DHB district live in rural locations and all too often patients are traveling long distances for a short consultation. Offering patients the option of a virtual visit via video or text will help to give everyone access to our services no matter who they are or where they live."

According to Clinical Director of Virtual Care, Dr Ruth Large, in some cases an examination will still be required, but if it isn’t then an appointment from home may be offered. "This is ideal for people who live far from hospital, don’t have transport or have to stay home to care for children or the elderly."

"We can also supply some home monitoring equipment which can link via bluetooth, like blood pressure cuffs, weighing scales and a pulse oximeter, and the data can be fed back to medical staff remotely."

Waikato residents will be able to sign up for the Virtual DHB service from June.

For more information and to see the Virtual DHB in action, visit
Shortland Street characters

Promoting Healthy Depictions of Mental Health

The Mental Health Foundation have been working with Shortland Street creators to promote safer and more accurate depictions of mental illness.

Depictions of mental illness in film and television are not always accurate. Unfortunately, NZ soap Shortland Street was an example of many shows that provided inaccurate depictions of mental illness that reinforced harmful stereotypes.

After watching some recent plotlines on Shortland Street, Mental Health Foundation [MHF] chief executive Judi Clements because concerned that this trend was still alive and well on New Zealand screens. Two storylines that particularly concerned her included one character who, on being released from an institution, killed her sister. Another character who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 'disappeared' into care.

She wrote to the producers of this show, criticising these inaccurate depictions of mental illness. "There are all sorts of misunderstandings [about mental health] that help movies make money," Clements said. "But don’t help people understand mental distress."

As a result of Clements' letter a crew of four mental health experts were invited to work with Shortland Street screenwriters, producers and actors of the show. They also collaborated to make resources tied to the show available on their website for viewers who wanted to learn more.

When an episode concerning youths suicide aired in October 2014, MHF worked with the Shortland Street social media staff to monitor reactions to the show and direct tweeters to hotlines. Those involved hope to replicate the success on other shows.

Mental health advocates said that the tactic of working with TV and film writers is cheaper than buying advertising time, and perhaps more effective. Think of it as mental health product placement.

Shortland Street’s head writer Joss King said he hopes to pursue additional mental health topics in future episodes.
For more information visit Portraying mental illness on the small screen. Adapted from article by Mary Pilon for Vice New Zealand.
TheMHS Conference Auckland, 23-26 August 2016
One of Australia and New Zealand's largest multidisciplinary mental health conferences.

Register Here

Young woman with phone

Getting Help: Internet & Computer Games

There are very few New Zealanders whose lives have not been touched by the changes to computers and internet.

For many of us the internet and computer/mobile games are a positive part of our lives: they are how we connect with our friends or communities, complete our work and study, wind down after school or work, or simply have fun!

However, some young people (and adults) have found that the internet and games cause problems in their lives. They may spend so much time on the internet or ‘gaming’ that they can’t keep up with other responsibilities at home or school, don’t get enough sleep, have conflicts with friends and family, or feel irritated, anxious or depressed any time they are not online or playing games.

If this is the case there are a variety of services young people, and their families/whānau or friends can turn to for help: On this website young people, families, friends and clinicians can find a variety of information on problem gaming or internet use, including assessing if gaming is a problem, changing or overcoming gaming addiction, help for family and friends, and even a handy table that helps you differentiate between high engagement and unhealthy gaming.
  • Online forums
These include On-Line Gamers Anonymous, StopGaming and Computer Gaming Addicts Anonymous. You may find these forums helpful to connect with other problem users and learn strategies that may have helped them improve their lives.
  • Find someone to talk to
This could include a trusted friend or family member, teacher or school councillor, or GP. You can also call YouthLine on 0800 37 66 33 or free text 234

Further Information

If you want to find out more about internet /gaming addiction or problem use visit:

Education and Training 2016

Youth Health Workshops provide practical programmes to enhance professional skills when working with young people in clinical and community settings.
The HEEADSSS Assessment:    28 Jun   19 Jul   8 Sep
An one day introduction to clinical practice in youth health including: communication and engagement in youth health and using the HEEADSSS assessment model. 
Fee: $75  (Free for CMDHB and ADHB Staff).
Who should attend?  Anyone working with young people.

What Comes After HEEADSSS?:    20 Sep
This one day course gives an introduction to intervention skills when working with young people such as problem solving, motivational interviewing and discussing principles of behaviour change in young people.
Fee: $75  (Free for CMDHB and ADHB Staff). 
Who should attend?  Those who have completed the HEeADSSS Assessment training.

For bookings or further information please contact the
Centre for Youth Health
Phone: (09) 261 2272            Fax: (09) 261 2273

New In The Library

The Anxiety Workbook for Teens
The Anxiety Workbook for Teens
by Lisa M. Schab
Nga Reanga Youth Development: Māori Styles
Nga Reanga Youth Development: Māori Styles
by Teorongonui Josie Keelan
Bringing Together Physical and Mental Health
Bringing Together Physical and Mental Health
by Chris Naylor, Preety Das, Shilpa Ross and others
The New Public Health
The New Public Health (3rd ed.)
by Fran Baum
Te Ohonga Ake
Te Ohonga Ake: The Determinants of Health for Māori Children and Young People in New Zealand
by New Zealand Child and Youth Epidemiology Service
New Zealand Health Strategy
New Zealand Health Strategy: Future Direction / New Zealand Health Strategy: Roadmap of Actions 2016
by Ministry of Health
For information on these and additional resources please contact

Any content and links are provided for information purposes only and reference to them is not intended to be construed as endorsement by Counties Manukau Health.

Copyright © 2016 Youth Health Information Service, All rights reserved.

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