WELLINGTON, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday visited Canterbury to mark the seventh anniversary of the 6.3-magtitude earthquake that killed 185 people, stressing to support the children of Christchurch and Kaikoura living with the legacy of earthquakes.
"We all want our kids to have a happy and carefree childhood, but sadly for too many that's not the reality in Canterbury," Ardern said in a statement.
Since 2011, there has been a 93-percent increase in demand for mental health services for children and young people in quake affected areas, she said, adding, "We want to wrap more care and support around these children at an early age."
The prime minister announced the first stage of the government's plan to deliver dedicated mental health support to primary and intermediate schools in the region.
This is the first step in a 28 million-NZ dollar (20.5 million-U.S. dollar) program that will be rolled out rapidly over the next three years, Ardern said, adding that ultimately it will result in a mental health worker for approximately every 1150 primary and intermediate age school children in Canterbury. Every primary school aged child in Canterbury will have access to a mental health worker.
"This new approach will allow specialist support to be tailored to the needs of individual children, their families and communities," she said.