Wanaka teenagers shared a ‘‘powerful’’ message about mental health experiences with Minister of Health Andrew Little last week.

Mr Little was at Adventure Development Limited (ADL) in Cromwell — a not-for-profit providing accessible youth wellbeing, mental health, and substance misuse services — where he heard first-hand accounts of the challenges and pressures young people faced.

Three Wanaka teenagers — Grace Gillies, Sienna Jones and Emma Arthur — shared with Mr Little their experience of reaching out for help.

An extensive wait to get support was a common thread, as well as a lack of resources and support in schools.

All three shared the positive experience they had with ADL, saying they felt safe, and normal.

The teenagers experiences echoed those of others throughout New Zealand, Mr Little said .

‘‘[It was] really powerful hearing those young women.’’

‘‘Any amount of time when you’re in distress or have got major challenges is going to feel like an extraordinarily long time, and the target for someone who does need acute help is to get that in a matter of days, not weeks.’’

‘‘[Young people] want to take control of their lives and their issues, but the sort of help they need to do that is not what’s available in schools. Really, their comment is what they’re being provided in schools is less than helpful,’’ Mr Little said.

The health minister was in the region to mark a milestone for the Government’s flagship primary mental health and addiction programme, Access and Choice.

Access and Choice services are made up of four streams — integrated primary mental health and addiction which is accessed via a general practice, as well as specific kaupapa Maori, Pacific and youth providers.

More than half a million mental health support sessions have been delivered through the programme, including through ADL.

The organisation took mental health support into the community, he said.

‘‘You don’t have to travel to Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington or Auckland. It’s taking frontline mental health services right out to the community, to GP practices and places like ADL,’’ Mr Little said.

ADL chief executive Clive McArthur said the increased support through Access and Choice had enabled the organisation to scale up the size of its team and reduce wait times for young people seeking help.

Wait times had been up to 15 weeks but were now reduced to four-six weeks in some areas.