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Mental health sector at crisis point

Mental health sector at crisis point

Green MP Sue Bradford today called in Parliament for a full review of progress in the mental health sector since the last Mason Report.

"I have heard desperate stories from the mentally ill themselves, saying they know they are getting sick and going into an acute episode, but can't get any help. It seems they have to commit a crime or try to kill themselves before they can get any assistance," the Green Mental Health Spokesperson said.

"People are also being released from acute units with nowhere to go, which is a huge concern.

"I also want to see an end to privacy being used as an excuse not to properly inform family, friends and flatmates. An example is the kidnapping and attack, revealed this month, of an elderly Wellsford couple by their boarder, whose mental health history had been kept from them by health officials."

Ms Bradford today asked Health Minister Annette King to recall the authors of the 1996 Mason Inquiry, to review the mental health sector's progress in implementing their recommendations.

"It has been a long time since the last Mason Report and there are still huge problems in the mental health sector," Ms Bradford said.

"The Wellsford incident has highlighted the way mental health service providers are continuing to wrongly use the Privacy Act as a mechanism to keep information from people who live with the severely mentally ill," she said.

"An aggravating factor in the Wellsford incident was the under-resourcing of mental health services. I am particularly concerned about the under-funding of the Community Assessment and Treatment Teams (CATT), which are in the front line of helping the mentally ill in crisis; and under-funding of ongoing mental health support in the Waitemata and Northland District Health Board areas."

Ms Bradford said she was disappointed Ms King had missed the point in Parliament today, when Ms King said she did not think another Mason Inquiry was necessary.

"I am not asking for another inquiry," Ms Bradford said. "I am asking for a formal review of progress since the Mason Report, and for the Government to urgently put more resources into mental health in Auckland and the North."

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