Anne-Elise Smithson: Do youth need more encouragement to use current social services or their own hub?

It’s about having a blend. However, currently we could do much better at targeting the specific needs of young people.

Teenagers have complicated needs, including mental illness and sexual health issues, which can lead to lifelong problems if left untreated.

The years 13-17 is a crucial time in a person’s life, but the social and health needs for this age group are mostly written off as too expensive to subsidise.

No doubt there may even be a few personal/psychological barriers that prevent teenagers from going to see a professional.

Researchers have found that one in four teenagers put off going to see a doctor when they needed to. Girls, Māori and Pacific teens and those from poor neighbourhoods were the most likely to put off going to the doctor or receiving other healthcare.

There are ongoing costs to the health system as a result, and we need to look at a plan to reduce hospital admissions, help prevent unwanted pregnancies, and give teenagers the support they need to help them navigate young adulthood.

Investing in health early means avoiding costs later on.

As for children, have you heard about the Greens’ schools hubs policy? (I get excited about talking about our excellent policies!)

The idea here is to have schools in lower income areas turned into hubs which would providehealth, social and learning support so kids need can get the most out of school. This in turn wouldrelieve pressure on teachers, so all children benefit.

Playcentre, after-school care organizations, and all sorts of services could be involved. These hubs could also be used for community adult education outside of school hours – it’s up to the community.

Anne-Elise Smithson, The Green Party.of Aotearoa New Zealand