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National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says this Mental Health Awareness Week National is encouraging the Government to take action to help improve the mental health of New Zealanders.

“Mental wellness is extremely important to overall wellbeing. In New Zealand the focus has moved from de-institutionalisation in the 80s, to de-stigmatisation in the last decade, and now to an emphasis on prevention, early intervention, and resilience.

“National’s Mental Health spokesperson Matt Doocey and National’s Health caucus have been out in the community meeting with New Zealanders, including those who cope with mental health issues and those who provide support, to hear about what we can do to better help them.

“It’s clear that there needs to be better access to improved services now and with the increased focus on mental health in the lead up to the election the sector and New Zealanders were expecting continuing improvements.

“Unfortunately this Government reprioritised $100 million for 17 new mental health initiatives which were ready to be rolled out and which would have helped to save lives. The Government did so while it holds yet another one of its inquiries.

“Both the sector and those suffering mental health issues want all parties in Parliament to work together on enduring solutions. National invited the other political parties to do so however the offer was rejected by Labour, NZ First and the Greens.

“National is still committed establishing a cross-party group to produce policies that will endure beyond the three-year Parliamentary cycle.

“National takes tackling mental health issues seriously. National’s Budget 2017 included $224 million over four years to increase support for people to access mental health and addiction services. We also increased funding for mental health services from $1.1 billion to over $1.4 billion in 2015/16 - an increase of over $500 million over in our time in Government.

“This Mental Health Week we want to encourage the Government to take action to help improve the mental health of some of our most vulnerable right now, by investing the money that was put aside by National for what would have been life changing projects.”

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