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Minds Meet On Mental Health Workforce Development

A Mental Health Workforce forum today has created better links between tertiary educators and health services.

The Ministry of Health, Health Funding Authority, Mental Health Commission and Ministry of Education joined forces to contribute to developing a mental health workforce which meets the needs of mental health services and the public.

The Director of Mental Health, Dr Janice Wilson, said the current state of the mental health workforce was one of the main barriers to implementing the Government's mental health strategy.

"We have come a long way with mental health workforce development in the 1990s, but there is still a long way to go. We need to make sure our approach is co-ordinated and thought through to benefit all, not just one part of the mental health sector," she said.

"The changes needed to the mental health workforce have already started, but will take some time to show. A long-term view is needed and investment in training and the workforce now will reap benefits further down the track," Dr Wilson said.

Today's forum provided a valuable opportunity for health service providers, education providers and other stakeholders to share information, make linkages and identify the next steps in developing the mental health workforce.

"We all work within our own areas, health and education, with a distant understanding of how each other works - what we want now is on the ground, practical solutions that portray an understanding of both sectors," Dr Wilson said.

Education Ministry's Chief Executive, Howard Fancy, described the forum as another example of how closer relationships between the social policy agencies can break down barriers that exist.

"There is an increasingly high level of commitment among agencies to work together to find ways to meet joint objectives. The goal of delivering more effective mental health services is one of those objectives where we can work together.

"We need to ensure there are stronger partnerships, wider networks, and better communication among stakeholders. This forum is all part of encouraging greater communication between mental health services and educators, so that there is better understanding of the other side's needs.

"Tertiary providers need to listen to the stakeholders and work with them to provide courses that will improve the work readiness of students. Health providers need to talk to tertiary providers and work with them to determine the sort of education needed," said Mr Fancy.


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