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National Will Address Mental Health Crisis

1 July 2002

The Government has ignored a crisis in mental health, which has seen psychiatric patients dumped in prisons and left to sleep on hospital floors, National Associate Health Spokesperson Dr Lynda Scott said today.

"This Government has treated psychiatric patients like second-class citizens. Patients in Auckland and Christchurch have had to stay overnight in prisons. In Dunedin, mental health patients have had to sleep on the floors of crowded hospitals because there is nowhere for them to go.

"National believes the deinstitutionalisation of mental health services has gone too far. It is leaving vulnerable patients on their own and struggling to cope.

"The Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act is now 10 years old and needs to be reviewed. National will review the Act. We need to ensure there is a balance between mental health and criminal justice legislation, the rights of the public to safety, and of the patient and their family.

"A legalisation change is required to ensure that families are involved in the decisions about the care of patients.

"National is committed to reducing New Zealand's suicide rate - more than 30 cases in every 100,000 people - one of the highest in the world.

"National will place major emphasis on youth suicide prevention programmes. We will develop services for troubled youth and expand alcohol and drug treatment service and develop speciality services for problem areas such as eating disorders.

"Mental health patients and their families have a right to access to support and services just like others who rely on the health system. Lack of support and services has led to tragic cases affecting many families and others. National's policy has the answers to address these issues," Dr Scott said.

Ends

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