Labour owes Mental Health Foundation an apology

Labour Minister David Parker has thrown the Mental Health Foundation under the bus in a continuance of his Government’s refusal to take responsibility for their series of failings when it comes to mental health.

Having told The AM Show on Friday morning that Mental Health Foundation Chief Executive Shaun Robinson was not telling the truth about the worsening state of mental health care under this Government, Minister Parker has overstepped the mark and owes Mr Robinson an apology.

Child and adolescent mental health waiting time data I released this week clearly showed that waiting times had ballooned under Labour after years of stabilising, if not declining, under National.

Wait times have increased in 17 of the 18 DHBs that provided data since Labour’s election in 2017 with some as much as 50 per cent longer in 2021 and that is simply not good enough.

The statistics show, that under the term of the last National Government, wait times for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services were stabilising if not declining. In part, this is due to the ability of the National Party to be accountable by monitoring key statistics and publishing data for the public.

National MPs are hearing regularly from constituents about their struggles to access vital mental health services for themselves or their children. This is an issue Kiwis really care about.

Despite promises from Labour of huge investment towards resolving the mental health crisis in New Zealand, it is evident that accessibility of services is going backwards. What we’re learning from the mental health community and services is that money is not flowing through to frontline services.

Now is the time for the Government to stop trying to redirect blame and to step up with transparent and measurable plans to fix this mental health mess.

New Zealanders in acute distress who are on waitlists for mental health care do not have time for the Labour Government to keep up this charade of finger pointing. They need action now to improve accessibility to mental health care services and address high suicide rates.

This latest misleading statement from a Labour minister comes in a week where the Government was caught out by attempts to bury negative mental health statistics.

Labour needs to start showing that they care about mental health by listening and responding to mental health advocates like Shaun Robinson who walk the talk, rather than attempting to shout them down and accuse them of lying when all they are trying to do is stand up for vulnerable New Zealanders.

I'm calling on Minister of Health Andrew Little to take responsibility for the poor outcomes and provide insight into how the Labour Government is going to address the worsening situation.