Every year thousands of New Zealanders experience mental health issues. Almost everyone has been affected either by mental health issues themselves or through support of family and friends.
I want to acknowledge all the work that is done by both those staff of our mental health services and those many families who day to day work with their loved ones to ensure they can find their way back to mental health.
The Government aims to support these frontline staff and families as much as possible and wants to work with them and their communities to improve treatment and prevention.
Mental health services have expanded over recent years as the number of people using the services has risen. In 2007, 96,000 people used specialist mental health services and addiction services. In 2017, that number has increased to 168,000. More funding for these services was provided in this year’s Budget, so now, all up, the Government invests $1.4 billion a year in mental health and addiction services.
But we need a wider range of interventions. For instance, 60 per cent of those who commit suicide had, in the 12 months previous to their suicide, no contact with specialist mental health or addiction services.
As part of the Budget, the Government set aside $100 million for new and innovative approaches and this week we outlined how we will use this social investment mental health fund.
There are 17 initiatives designed to improve access to effective and responsive mental health services while at the same time, starting to transform our approach to mental health, reorienting our focus towards prevention, early intervention and resilience-building.
It includes sending mental health workers with police to mental health call outs, more mental health professionals working with schools, and specific efforts to ensure people getting mental health treatment can stay in their homes.
This package is part of our wider programme to prevent and respond to mental disorders.
It also fits with our social investment approach, taking a clear view of the needs of the population and using evidence to realign and expand services across schools, prisons and primary health care to meet a wide range of individual and family needs.
There isn’t a single solution but I am confident that these measures represent a significant step forward.
This article is free to read, but it would awesome if we had your support.