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MHF Says Government Initiatives Are Positive First Steps

Mental Health Foundation says government’s mental health initiatives are positive first steps

Monday 14 August 2017 - The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) welcomes the government’s announcement of its $100 million fund for mental health as positive first steps.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson says the government’s initiatives are encouraging, but they must be the beginning of a larger programme of change.

“The heavy reliance on pilots and targeted approaches in the package announced today makes it plain that additional funding will be needed so that activities that work can be made available throughout New Zealand,” says Mr Robinson.

“While the announcements are promising, the government must deliver strong direction, leadership and drive to take action to improve mental health and wellbeing.

“The needs are very urgent and very large. We need a clear policy direction and a strong sense that this package is just the beginning.”

Mr Robinson says it’s critical that the details of the pilots, initiatives and policy framework are designed with strong input from people with lived experience of mental distress, including whanau and young people, as well as service providers.

The cross-government, intergovernmental response could help to address the social drivers of mental health problems.

“We know mental health problems don’t occur in isolation; trauma, violence, poverty and a lack of adequate housing are major factors. While the service initiatives address aspects of these issues, sustained effort is required to tackle inequality and family violence.”

The MHF supports the government’s focus of better supporting and empowering children and young people.

“We need to promote and teach strategies that improve mental and emotional wellbeing and grow young peoples’ capacity to respond well to life’s challenges.”

The MHF welcomes the use of early-intervention approaches such as integrated services within GP practices and distance e-therapy options.

“People need to be able to get mental health support quickly and effectively. We can’t let it get to the point where it becomes a crisis.”

Upskilling the mental health workforce and providing more effective responses to people in crisis are positive steps to help our stretched mental health sector.

“In a crisis, any door should be the right door and lead to high-quality, integrated support. No one should be turned away from services because there is no capacity to help them.”

The government’s investment in crisis response, prevention, early intervention and recovery should have a positive impact on the number of deaths by suicide. But the MHF says an integrated suicide prevention strategy must be rolled out in conjunction with the government’s initiatives.


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