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New MOH mental health workforce document

Media Release

10 October 2002

Ministry of Health releases new mental health workforce document

The Ministry of Health is marking World Mental Health Day today with the release of a new document focused on one of the most complex and dynamic areas of mental health -- workforce development.

Deputy Director-General of Mental Health Dr Janice Wilson said the Mental Health (Alcohol and Other Drugs) Workforce Development Framework provides snapshots of workforce development so far, as well as identifying its future direction.

``Mental health services have developed rapidly in the past 10 years to help meet the needs of some of the country's most vulnerable people, those with a mental illness,'' Dr Wilson said.

``Mental health workforce development is clearly a priority -- progress towards more and better mental health services can only be made with workforce development. Effort is still needed to secure the workforce numbers and skill configuration required to meet the mental health needs of our community, and that's what we are working towards. This document gets us a step closer.''

Spending on mental health services grew from $480 million in 1997/98 to $596 million in 1999/2000. By 2003/04 expenditure on mental health is set to increase to $750 million.

Dr Wilson said this investment was related to the New Zealand Health Strategy goals and objectives to improve the health status of people with severe mental illness. The strategy, released in December 2000, recognises health services of the future may need a different mix of workforce skills to those of the present.

``Through the further development of the mental health workforce, more and better mental health services will be available to meet the needs of New Zealanders,'' Dr Wilson said.

``Workforce development involves more than investment in training. The task now is to determine how to address recruitment and retention, research, management practice and organisational effectiveness and development.''

The framework clarifies the different organisations that are responsible for workforce development. It describes what work is going on now to ensure people in the mental health workforce have the right mix of skills to help people seeking mental health care.

The main employers of the mental health workforce are District Health Boards (DHBs) and non-government organisations.

Dr Wilson said the Ministry was working in partnership with DHBs to implement the framework and ensure funding is used in the best possible ways to increase and improve the workforce.

``Already we have been building relationships with DHB mental health regional networks, and as part of the partnership agreement there will be ongoing consultation with the mental health sector.''

Mental Health (Alcohol and Other Drugs) Workforce Development Framework can be viewed on the Ministry of Health website:


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