With the Health Minister admitting in Parliament this week that there is $100 million set aside by the previous government for mental health he needs to confirm whether he will take action on the 17 mental health initiatives identified by the previous government, National Party Mental Health Spokesperson Matt Doocey says.
“The 17 initiatives which were part of the $100 million mental health package announced last year should already be providing significant support to vulnerable New Zealanders in regions from Northland to Southland but they are now being parked while the Government buys time with an inquiry,” Mr Doocey says.
“The initiatives were backed by the Government’s Chief Science Advisors and were aimed at expanding primary and community mental health and addiction care, providing wraparound services for people experiencing mental health crises, improving the response to events requiring mental health intervention and beginning to shift our focus towards prevention, early intervention and resilience-building.
“These initiatives would have been making a real difference to peoples’ lives and there is no good reason why they aren’t already.
“A multi-agency co-response for people who rang 111 for events requiring mental health intervention was to be piloted through this fund. This was to respond to the known stress on police and emergency services and would deploy staff from police, ambulance, and mental health services together, as a priority emergency response.
“The Tu Kotahi programme was planned to be piloted by the previous Government and was specifically designed by a Northland local to support school children in Northland and across the country with their mental health and wellbeing, helping them build their resilience and encouraging those who needed help to reach out.
“But now that it is unlikely that we will see any action on mental health for 9 - 12 months these planned initiatives are facing uncertainty and vulnerable New Zealanders are missing out. This inaction is in favour of an inquiry that even the independent Mental Health Commissioner, Kevin Allan, has admitted is unnecessary.
“The inquiry will cost time and money when, as was planned by the previous Government, action needs to be taken now. The work has already been done for the Government but it refuses to pick up these much-needed initiatives.
“New Zealanders were expecting to see action from National’s $100 million mental health package and now all they see is a Government who is putting off the issue.”