New youth mental health unit opens in Kenepuru
A $15.3 million national youth forensic mental health unit opened at Kenepuru Hospital last month.
More than 100 people attended the 10-bed inpatient facility’s official opening on April 21, with Education Minister Hekia Parata stepping in to snip the opening ribbon after flight delays stopped Health Minister Jonathan Coleman from attending.
After she finished reading Coleman’s speech, she said she felt glad the new facility would address the gap in youth mental health care, but was sad that New Zealand had a growing demand for such a service.
‘‘Many families, including my own, have been touched by mental health challenges among our young people – too many families across New Zealand,’’ Parata said.
Nga Taiohi Youth Forensic Inpatient Service is the first secure facility of its kind in New Zealand and referrals come from a team of representatives from the five community-based youth forensic mental health services nationwide.
It cares for teenaged offenders with a mental illness and/or alcohol and drug problems. The hospital also has flats that their families can stay at to ensure those relationships remain strong.
Until now, such offenders have had to be treated in adult facilities or in the community.
Capital & Coast District Health Board chairwoman Dr Virginia Hope said the unit, jointly funded by the Ministry of Health and the DHB, had top technology that would ensure the young people could stay connected to their families and community, plus mental health providers in their areas.
‘‘Today marks a major step forward in the way we care for
Hekia Parata opened the unit at Kenepuru.