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MOH welcomes Mental Health progress report

Media Release

21 May 2002

Ministry of Health welcomes Mental Health progress report

Ministry of Health Deputy Director-General of Mental Health Dr Janice Wilson today welcomed the Mental Health Commission's latest progress report, saying it was pleasing to see that the thousands of New Zealanders who use mental health services have improved access to the help they need.

The report says that growth continued during 2000/01 in most service categories specified in the Commission's Blueprint for Mental Health Services in New Zealand. At June 30, 2001, compared with the same time the year before:

There were 455 additional full-time equivalent (FTE) community clinical positions funded, bringing the total number to 3241;

These community clinical services for all age and specialty groups combined are now funded to 69 percent of the Blueprint guidelines; General adult community clinical services are now funded to 87 percent of the guidelines (not including services specifically for people over 65 years) compared with 80 percent at June 30, 2000;

There are 236 FTE additional community non-clinical support positions funded, bringing the total to 951; Funding for Maori services is 58 percent higher than in 1999/2000;

Community clinical services for children and youth increased by 148 FTE additional funded positions, to 679 FTEs; Community alcohol and drug assessment and treatment services are now resourced to about 74 percent of the Blueprint guidelines and community bed numbers are above the guidelines for the north and south as well as for New Zealand as a whole; Methadone services have reached 65 percent of the Blueprint guidelines, and 95 percent in the southern region; Access to atypical anti-psychotic medication continues to be above the target.

Dr Wilson said the mental health sector was working hard, but there were still significant issues and challenges to be addressed, particularly around workforce numbers, recruiting and training.

``It's going to take time to build systems and skills to address it all, but it's much better now than it has been in the past,'' she said.

``There are difficulties, but the improvements have been fantastic.''

Dr Wilson paid tribute to mental health service workers who ``go the extra mile'', saying: ``They do the best they can to make sure people who need help have access to it.''

Workforce development was one of the most complex and dynamic areas of mental health, she said, and the Ministry acknowledged a more systemic approach in this area was needed.

Recent workforce Ministry initiatives include establishing workforce development organisations for Maori, and child and youth; developing the non-government organisation sector area through mental health support work grants for training; and developing responses through District Health Boards New Zealand projects including intermediate level training, workforce numbers and orientation for overseas recruits.

Dr Wilson said the New Zealand mental health sector had a good reputation internationally.

"Our work in New Zealand on improving the quality of services, recognising that people who use services and their families must have serious input into service planning and delivery, is keenly observed overseas, particularly in Australia, Britain and the United States."

Dr Wilson said she was pleased the Commission's report highlighted the work of other agencies, such as those dealing with housing and employment. She said it was important to note an individual's recovery from mental illness was dependent on more than health services, and their housing, education, and employment situations were just as important as good clinical services.

The full Commission report is available on its website,


Marama Ellis Media Advisor Ministry of Health DDI: 04 496 2067 Mobile: 025 802 622 Fax: 04-496-2010

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