More mental health announcements, more failure certain

The Government’s announcement of $5.6 million to help Aucklanders experiencing mental distress shows it does not care about other people struggling with lockdowns, says National’s spokesperson for Mental Health and Suicide Awareness Matt Doocey.

“The announced investment is only available to Aucklanders, which is strange. Aucklanders are desperate for help but what about people experiencing distress in locked-down Waikato and Northland, or even the rest of New Zealand?

“All New Zealanders, not only those in Auckland, continue to experience increased levels of stress and anxiety. Demand for mental health services across the country is skyrocketing.

“The Government also extended funding to additional schools as part of its $75.8m investment for school counsellors. Sounds good on the face of it, schools are still struggling to access the initial funding when it was made available 15 months ago.

“What makes the Government think it can deliver on this latest round of announced funding when it can’t even get the last round out the door? 

“Labour has been negligent on mental health. It has failed to plan for and put the mechanisms in place to support New Zealanders with mental wellbeing during this pandemic.

“It promised to transform our mental health system. Instead, things have gotten worse.

“The Government’s frontline mental health service wasn’t fast-tracked to respond to increasing rates of mental distress as a result of lockdown restrictions. As a result, it is throwing money to hide its failings.

“Again, this Government is good at announcing things but terrible at delivering.

“The rate at which Labour has failed to deliver and invest in the area of mental health is deeply concerning. With $45 million underspent on mental health initiatives to date, the Government keeps dragging its heels.

“National is calling on the Government to use this underspend to fund 100,000 free counselling sessions to those that need help right here and now, as well as to catch up on the growing list of people who have been waiting to get the help they need.”