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Commission to monitor slower progress

Media release 8 May 2003

Thursday 8 May

Commission to monitor slower progress

A fall-off rate of progress in developing mental health services has concerned the Mental Health Commission, which will be monitoring the situation over the next year.

The Commission’s Report on Progress 2001/2002, released today, shows that funding for mental health increased by 5.5 percent, but access to services for people with mental illness remains pretty much unchanged from the previous year’s figure.

Chair Jan Dowland says that New Zealand has made significant gains in a relatively short time in developing more and better mental health services and it could be expected that at some point that growth would start to plateau.

“However, the fact that we appear to be seeing a fall-off in development requires careful and close monitoring over the next year. The Blueprint for Mental Health Services says three percent of the population should have access to mental health services.

“We seem to have stalled at around 1.7 percent and we need to understand better why this is happening so that we can continue to move forward.”

Ms Dowland says she is pleased that the Report on Progress is being launched at the Mental Health Workforce Programme launch, because workforce issues were a key barrier to improved mental health services.

“There are high vacancy rates across the country. While the number of funded FTE positions continued to grow, mental health providers are having enormous difficulties filling the positions.

“I commend this workforce initiative and look forward to seeing the benefits in the coming years,” says Ms Dowland.


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