Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Investigating Practices of Privilege Among Parents Accessing Mental Health Services for their Adolescent Children in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

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posted on 2023-04-10, 08:35 authored by Anderson-McEwen, Charlotte

Globally, youth mental health and suicide statistics have shown a marked increase over the last decade, with Aotearoa/New Zealand following a similar trend. Along with these high rates, there are also significant issues surrounding access to services. Although Aotearoa/New Zealand has a subsidised mental health system, access to these services are still patterned, most notably by ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Research focused on improving access to services often focuses on disadvantaged communities. However, this ignores the role that society plays in maintaining socioeconomic inequality and reproducing power and privilege. This current research investigates whether parents’ access to mental health resources for their adolescent children require certain skills and abilities. More specifically, the project will examine the practices of privilege parents use to access support for their adolescent children experiencing mental distress in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine parents of adolescents aged 15-18, about their experiences and practices used to access mental health services. These interviews were analysed using thematic analysis. All parents faced difficulties in accessing services, regardless of their circumstances. However, privilege, persistence, knowledge and social networking did function to enable parents to access services for their children. Service access required parents to access social networks, to know when to seek additional advice, and to know how and when to persist or to insist on services. The limited services and bureaucratic structure of the mental health system in Aotearoa/New Zealand made it difficult to access services without these additional skills. Needing these skills to access services may mean that those without social and economic resources are excluded from mental health services. These findings can be used to inform the design of more equitable health services in Aotearoa/New Zealand and to develop services that provide fairer access.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Health Psychology

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Health Psychology

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

200305 Mental health services

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Health


Breheny, Mary