The pending announcement of what’s likely to be a lengthy inquiry into the state of mental health services in New Zealand will delay action for those who need help now, National’s spokesperson for Mental Health Matt Doocey says.
“Everyone agrees that we need to respond to the growing demand for mental health services in New Zealand as well as increasing psychological and emotional resilience of individuals, families and communities, but a prolonged inquiry on its own is not going to help those who need dedicated services right now.
“A Government can't guarantee that an inquiry will fix anything. The risk is that we wait 18-24 months to learn services can be improved while, in the meantime, there are people who need the help now.
“The National government put in an extra $100 million to fund services based on evidence of what would have the most impact for people suffering from mental health issues.
“We took a Social Investment approach to design and fund 17 new initiatives aimed at helping New Zealanders suffering from mental health issues, as well as focusing on improving services and earlier intervention.
“This fund was to be part of a $224 million boost to mental health services we announced in last year’s Budget.
“The Government is playing for time. Because of the big-ticket items it has already committed to funding, it is running out of cash. By the time it runs its inquiry, received the recommendations, had officials work on the recommendations, designed some policy, it’ll be a couple of years before anything is implemented.
“The Minister of Health has been pretty clear he intends to set targets around suicide prevention and to meet them.
“I look forward to him identifying the issues and outlining his plan to deal with them – but I don’t think a lengthy inquiry will be acceptable to the public – the Government should pick up the working programmes we had developed and just get on with it.,” Mr Doocey says.