New Zealand bets on helping teens recover from breakups

New Zealand bets on helping teens recover from breakups

“Okay, I’ll do it. I am going to officially delete my ex from my social networks”, says a young woman as she looks at her phone screen with conviction. She leans in and whispers, “I turn the page.”

The images appear in a New Zealand government video that starts from the universal premise that “breakups suck.” This content is part of a new and unusual campaign to support young people who have suffered a breakup, which launches proposals to manage feelings in a healthy way.

The Love Better campaign, disseminated through the most popular media and social networks among generation Z “is a community of young people who have just broken up and help others who are going through the same experience, to prevent a little pain from becoming a lot of pain”, explains the voice in off of the video.

The show uses real footage of young people talking about how they deal with breakups, rather than using actors reading from a script. It will include videos, articles, podcasts and other content on social networks such as TikTok and Instagram.

Real stories

“No other government in the world has tried a similar strategy,” he tells The Guardian Deputy Minister for Social Development, Priyanca Radhakrishnan. “The strength of this campaign lies in the strategy, we start from real and raw stories, and through platforms that reach young people.”

According to a study commissioned by the Government in 2022, almost 80% of young New Zealanders between the ages of 16 and 24 have been in a relationship and 87% of them have experienced suffering that goes beyond the normal pain of a breakup. According to the study, 55% of young people do not believe or only “a little” believe that they could end a relationship without suffering.

Although much of the suffering has been emotional, one in six young people have had to deal with physical arguments in the course of their relationship.

In 2021, the Labor government launched New Zealand’s first strategy to eradicate domestic violence, a problem that has baffled successive governments and, while difficult to quantify exactly, is considered one of the worst evils social of the country

“We have very high rates of family and sexual violence in New Zealand,” says Radhakrishnan, who ran a foster organization before entering Parliament. “We have been working to reverse the situation and we know that we need an innovative look to do it.”

The Government has explained that the Love Better campaign will cost 6.4 million New Zealand dollars (about four million euros) over three years, allocated through previous funding calls.

“It is normal to have mixed feelings”

Youthline, a youth support service, has received part of the funding for a dedicated email and text message service to cater to young people who want more help when they come across the campaign online.

“Usually it seems that the only option after a breakup, other than to hate the person or break up with them, is not to feel anything for them,” says Jo Madsen, head of Youthline’s practice. “So it’s really cool to show that it’s normal to have mixed feelings after a breakup and that there are ways to deal with them in a healthy way.”

Madsen points out that the rise of the Internet and social media has introduced unique and complicated dynamics to breakups. Or as one young person who filmed herself lying in bed during the first campaign video and prepared to block her ex on social media said: “This is getting ridiculous. This is getting out of hand. I need to sleep at night. I need to… get over this. The first step is to delete her profile”.

Translation by Emma Reverser.


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