I recently attended the Wellbeing and Public Policy conference in Wellington. There were over 100 presentations on a wide range of approaches to wellbeing, including planning for wellbeing, wellbeing theory and measurement, children’s/youth wellbeing, cultural wellbeing and community wellbeing. We also heard from government ministers about their plans for wellbeing policy.
In the last few weeks, there has been a great deal of talk about “what is depression”. Many people think that depression is just an emotion, that is equal to anger, or opposite to happy. We don't call anger a mental illness, so why do we call feeling sad and down an illness?
The month of September is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) awareness month throughout the world. Recently in the media we have heard that up to 3,000 children are potentially born with FASD symptoms in New Zealand every year. FASD results from the unborn child being exposed to alcohol while in utero causing permanent damage to the Central Nervous System (CNS).
In my work as a researcher and evaluator I am informed by positive youth development values such as youth participation. Participatory or empowerment evaluation seeks to actively include stakeholders such as young people in substantive ways in the evaluation process.
I recently came across the special issue in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy from 2017: Relational Trauma and Family Therapy. Linda MacKay’s descriptions of the articles contained therein had me so enticed  I couldn’t decide which article to read first.
School attendance is compulsory in Aotearoa New Zealand for all students aged six to sixteen years. Most children start school on their fifth birthday and many remain until the end of Year 13 when they tend to be aged seventeen or eighteen years (Ministry of Education, 2017).
I have been doing some research lately to help out a young person who is setting up a social enterprise. He is looking at ways of supporting small businesses to develop employee volunteering schemes. His aim is to match the businesses with not-for-profits so that a more personal, on-going connection is established between the employees and the community organisation.
Too often we exclusively talk about the link between depression and suicide. While there certainly is a link between depression and suicide there are many other factors that can contribute to suicidal ideation, such as feelings of hopelessness, personality disorders, trauma and a same day crisis, such as a relationship breakup.
In January this year, a new report was published online by the British Psychological Society which presents a radically new way to think about the diagnosis of functional mental illnesses, or mental illnesses which are not rooted in brain damage or neurological disorder.
There has been much discussion in recent times about the destructive effect of social media on the development of young people, especially under 15 year olds. This ranges from the dangers of pornography to the disappearance of the skills of non-verbal communication and the rise of social phobia.
The United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child recognises children and young people’s citizenship rights. This includes their right to participate in decisions that affect them, including in the development and evaluation of services for them. An ethical issue in research and evaluation that involves young people is enabling their participation in ways that ensures that they do not come
September 9th has been recognised as International FASD Awareness Day www.fan.org.nz. Awareness of FASD has been growing since the early 1990s in New Zealand (NZ). FASD is the result of permanent damage to the central nervous system (including the brain) to the unborn child, when a woman consumes alcohol during pregnancy.
The word ‘research’ often conjures up images of overseas experts in academic institutions working with massive data sets and complex theories. While these sorts of studies often produce significant results that are valuable for creating evidence-based policy and practice, it’s important not to miss the great research, often small-scale, that’s done here in our corner of the world.
“Strong public awareness and participation in matters relating to mental health and well-being” and “increased community well-being” were two key outcomes outlined in the job description for the Community Connector for Rural Ashburton and Selwyn Districts. A role that I have now filled for just over a year.
Anne shares her thoughts on The Munro Review of Child Protection from the London Department for Education By Anne Scott
I wasn’t expecting to have much reading fun when I picked up this report, which is being cited internationally and has made a real splash; most reports are rather dry, and I was reading this one because it relates to the research we’re doing on child custody when parents have mental illnesses or addictions. However, I got a very pleasant surprise.
The Dunedin Study has had a considerable amount of media coverage in the last year, including a television series titled “Why am I ?”. This study is famous because it tracks the lives of just over 1,000 people born in Dunedin during 1972-1973, and it is still continuing 45 years later.
Ako Aotearoa recently released a report on a National Project Fund project that they have been working on with Downer, Connexis and Primary ITO*. The project aimed to improve the outcomes and retention of apprentices at Downer through establishing mentoring relationships within the organisation.
"I was interested to find out more about how youth had been involved in the process of establishing these goals, and I came across the article Facilitating health and wellbeing is “everybody’s role”: youth perspectives from Vanuatu on health and the post-2015 sustainable development goal agenda.
Recent research by the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services outlines the added value that is provided by community based services. It highlights how community based organisations are becoming increasingly marginalized as the government moves towards funding social services through larger organisations and private providers.
Recently some education professionals have become more aware that there are students in our schools who are both highly able and still have learning or behavioural difficulties. They are twice-exceptional learners.
'Something that has struck me, three weeks into the job, is how many of the children and teens we get to spend time with are such bubbly, happy, easy going, well-rounded kids. This personal experience has stood out as a bright light against the backdrop of much of the research which takes a deficits approach to children whose parents have mental illness.
As a youth worker my role involves making an initial assessment then navigating a young person to the right service. I am having more and more trouble finding help for these young people.
I want to discuss the idea of youth consultation and participation in relation to the establishment of a new service in Christchurch (Arahina ki Otautahi) for children and young people in the care of Child, Youth and Family who are not engaged in education or training.
Starting School in Shaky Town – the Canterbury earthquakes and their continued impact on children - by Fi Rice.
As a parent of a child born in September 2010 I am especially interested in emerging research around the effects of quakes on children. Many parents could easily assume that their very young children may not have been old enough to be aware of or affected by the events surrounding Canterbury’s recent natural disaster.
Advice for Parents on Suicide and Suicidal Behaviour in Young People: Like Searching for a Needle in a Hay Stack - by Sarah Wylie.
As the parent of teenagers, I had the experience several years ago of my son losing a close friend to suicide. For our family, this came out of the blue as our worst nightmare. Within the space of a few short hours we moved from travelling away on a weekend holiday to we, as parents, sitting outside an interview room at the Police station while our son was interviewed.
The government has indicated that young people who are disengaged from education and employment will be an increasing priority for them. If they are serious about this they need to take a lead in policy and funding towards an approach that addresses the resources needed to provide holistic services that place the wellbeing of young people at the centre of the programmes that we provide for them
Te Kooti Rangatahi works within the contemporary legal context however is marae-based and utilises tikanga Maori. It is an option available to all Maori aged 14-16 years appearing in the regular Youth Court and allows those who admit the charges they are facing to have their court matters heard on the marae.
Research Reflection: Adolescents Crafting Identities After A Period Of Time Outside Education, Training And Employment. Jane Higgins.
Jane Higgins (PhD) has worked in youth transitions research since the early 1990s, most recently as a senior research fellow at Lincoln University. Read Jane's reflection on her own research (published in 2012- access the full report here) interviewing young people who had left school with low or no qualifications and how those young people actively crafted their identities as adolescents....
New means better and the latest research always trumps that old research… right? Andrew (Maps) Curtis
The view of addiction from Rat Park is that today’s flood of addiction is occurring because our fragmented, mobile, ever-changing modern society has produced social and cultural isolation, even though the cage is invisible.
Children who lack resources such as education and good nutrition do not have the same lofty aspirations as children who are not deprived in this way. Ambrose describes this as “socioeconomic barriers to aspiration discovery and talent development"