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Terryann Clark: Survey finds one in five youth unable to access healthcare

Early Edition with Kate Hawkesby

Fears "we are failing our youth" come after new research reveals one in five high school students haven't been able to see a health professional when they needed to.
The Government-funded Youth19 survey also found thousands of pupils weren't assured of their confidentiality and were unable to talk with a health professional in private.
It comes after another Youth19 report in August showed signs of depression and suicidal attempts had increased among secondary school students, while substance use had dropped.
"We are failing our young people by not providing a safe context for them to be able to have good health consultations ... we really are missing opportunities to help our young people," one of the investigators of the study, Associate Professor Terryann Clark said.
Clark - who is also a Māori health nurse - and fellow researcher Roshini Peiris-John - who is also a public health doctor - said the findings hadn't improved in 20 years and the gap between rich and poor had widened.
"Poverty is becoming more of an issue and it's a huge concern for our young people being able to accessing health," Clark said.
"Young people who have mental health or sexual health issues are not going to disclose them if there is a caregiver present and if health professionals aren't reassuring young people of their confidentiality they don't know if they can trust them," she said.

Co-investigator of the study and Māori health nurse Associate Professor Terryann Clark. Photo / Supplied
The survey involved more than 7700 students from high-schools randomly selected across Waikato, Northland and Auckland.
Clark said they made sure there was a diverse group of students that they believed represented the whole country.
The survey found while more than two-thirds of students reported good wellbeing, 23 per cent said they had significant symptoms of depression. This has almost doubled for many groups since 2012.
Suicide attempts amongst this age group had also increased, particularly for males. Around one-fifth of students reported that they had difficulty getting help.
Researchers said models of care were "too mainstream" and "Pākehā-focused" meaning they did not cater for diverse communities.
Another issue they said was the rollout of the Government's Nurses in Schools programme varied in quality.
Some schools had visiting nurses while others had multiple permanent health professionals on site, Clark said.
She said health professionals were not being taught how to treat youth and it was causing young people to feel misunderstood.
As part of the Youth19 survey, students were encouraged to give their voice. Comments included:
"Listen to them. Respect as people not just useless kids," European male, decile 7, age >17.
"Make it normal and comfortable to talk to people and not make it like people who talk about their feeling are weird and needy people who are just looking for attention because that's how young people in this day and age think," Māori female, decile 2, age 15.
They were also asked what could help. Responses included:
"Trained professionals wandering around schools just talking to students without having an appointment," Māori male, decile 9, age 15.
"More counsellors around our age that can understand our feelings better and so we can have a chill conversation rather than a nervy one, "Asian female, decile 9, age 14.
Researchers suggest five priorities for improvement:

Provide healthcare services that are appropriate to youth and get input from youth.
Ensure health professionals are well-trained and know how to engage with young people and provide conditions for them to have proper consultations in ways that make sense to them.
Look at a multitude of ways to support access into health services whether that be through schools, Youth One Stop Shop, GPs. Young people need lots of different ways to access healthcare.
Minimise the impact of poverty on health access, for example free healthcare, like that for under 13-year-olds.
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