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Crisis in Funding for Mental Health Service

MEDIA RELEASE

CRISIS IN FUNDING FOR MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH SERVICE

Mothers Helpers' not-for-profit maternal mental health service say their funding is in crisis, and fear for the future of those they serve. Currently the main service in Auckland, Hamilton and in most parts of the country, Mothers Helpers offers a perinatal depression recovery course through group or online therapy to women who do not meet Maternal Mental Health criteria - 95-97% of women in the community with depression/anxiety during the perinatal phase. Mothers Helpers has a 62% recovery rate on completion of the course, and an average of 51% improvement in (Edinburgh) Postnatal Depression scores. Despite the effectiveness of their service, they have not been able to obtain Government funding through the Ministry of Health, which they were relying on to continue a free or affordable service.

Mothers Helpers Founder Kristina Paterson says "For the past two years, I have been around in circles talking with Primary Health Organisations and District Health Boards, and they are all saying the same thing: they love the work that we do, but the money just isn't there. This means that we are now having to charge all clients coming to our service in order to pay our registered counsellors and social workers, and that has meant that there has been a drop in women accessing our service. It's just one more barrier to mothers with depression getting the help they need."

Mothers Helpers' announcement comes just days after the People's Mental Health Review Report which reported that women with mental illness during the perinatal phase were struggling to access timely, accessible, appropriate mental health services. Specific barriers included long wait times, geographic isolation, or a lack of options that were suitable for mother and baby. The Report released on Wednesday 18th April called for an urgent funding increase for mental health services, a fully independent oversight of the mental health system, an urgent independent inquiry and a national education programme.

Maternal Care Action Group will deliver a petition to Minister of Health Dr Jonathan Coleman on Mother's Day next month requesting an increase in primary care maternal mental health funding. For Mothers Helpers, it is vital to their survival.

ENDS


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