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Mental health teams within GP practices a promising start

Mental health teams within GP practices a promising start, says NZAC

The Labour Party’s promise to invest $43 million in areas of high demand for mental health services is being welcomed by the NZ Association of Counsellors (NZAC), albeit cautiously.

Last week, party leader Andrew Little announced the proposal should Labour form a government in September.

It would implement a two-year pilot programme to establish eight teams across New Zealand, with one already determined to be in Christchurch.

The other sites would be chosen later, through consultation with the primary sector, DHB’s and NGOs.

NZAC president, Bev Weber, says the pilot’s implementation to help struggling families can’t come soon enough.

It is urgent that the country’s most vulnerable get the attention and support they deserve, she says.

However, she has some questions about the practicality of Mr Little’s promise to fund free primary mental health care, and new teams that will see patients receive a dedicated coordinator to follow them through every aspect of the system.

“I wholeheartedly support counsellors being readily available, and working alongside GP’s in their practices to ensure people don't fall through the cracks.

“Nevertheless, I am concerned that our counsellors in private practice, who undertake this work with Medical centres, are guaranteed financial uniformity with other agencies such as ACC, DHB’s, and the EAP providers.”

Despite her uncertainty, Ms Weber acknowledges the finer details of the policy have yet to be finalised.

She appreciates any efforts that addresses the country’s burgeoning public mental health problems.

“Everywhere you look, people are struggling to cope and there currently is no plan effective enough to confront our horrendous mental health statistics.

“This policy, should it come to fruition, is a good start, but more needs to be done and soon. Implementing proper resources nationwide will save us trouble in the long term.”


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