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$1.2m Agreement To Boost Mental Health Workforce

Joint Media Release between District Health Boards New Zealand and Ministry of Health

New moves to improve recruitment, retention and training in the mental health workforce are underway following a $1.2 million agreement recently signed between District Health Boards New Zealand (DHBNZ) and the Ministry of Health.

New Zealand is facing a huge demand for mental health workers following a 100 percent boost to mental health funding over the last decade, says Ministry of Health mental health policy manager Todd Krieble.

Under the agreement DHBNZ will co-ordinate the international recruitment of professionals in areas with severe shortages such as child and adolescent psychiatry, and will help with the orientation of these overseas mental health recruits.

"Having DHBNZ work out recruitment needs across the country and relay them to universities and students considering their future plans is a positive step in addressing the workforce issues that the mental health sector has grappled with for many years," Mr Krieble said.

The agreement also funds extra training courses for about 300 mental health staff in the next year and sets up a project to identify the training priorities for workers in the sector.

Other initiatives include a pilot project to increase the number of child and youth clinical placements for mental health students. The effectiveness and possibility of extending the use of telemedicine will also be investigated, especially for rural areas where workforce issues may prove most difficult to address.

DHBNZ project manager Jane Bollard said it was pleased to be able to co-ordinate this activity on behalf of DHBs.

"Continued development of the Mental Health workforce is essential to ensure New Zealand's mental health services continue to grow. The need to upskill mental health workers throughout the sector is supported by all District Health Boards."

Ends


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