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Mental Health Commission Report on Progress

5pm May 8, 2003
Media Statement

Mental Health Commission Report on Progress

Health Minister Annette King says although an extra $38 million or 5.5 percent was provided for mental health services in 2001-02, the Mental Health Commission’s annual Report on Progress shows the growth in mental health services has slowed down.

The extra $38 million brought the total mental health spend to $725 million a year, up 127 percent (after adjusting for inflation) from the $270 million in 1993/94.

Ms King released the Commission’s Report on Progress at Parliament today, at the same time as launching the Mental Health Workforce Development Programme, a partnership between the Health Research Council and the Ministry of Health’s mental health directorate.

“The Commission’s report highlights the problems of attracting people to work in mental health services and shows quite large workforce vacancies throughout the sector, particularly in community mental health and child and youth services.

“While we continue to provide funding for more FTEs, there is a high vacancy rate across the country. Workforce development remains an issue for the sector and a more strategic approach is being taken at the national level with the new Mental Health Workforce Development Programme,” she says.

Ms King said the growth in mental health services in recent years had slowed.
“This could be expected because there had been such strong growth in recent years.

“The slowing down is reflected in the only slightly improved access to services experienced by those with serious mental illness from the previous year. The access figure is 1.7 percent of the New Zealand population, but the Blueprint for Mental Health states that three percent of the population should have access to services.”

Ms King said the Government remained committed to implementing the Blueprint. “In 2000, we allocated $257.4 million over four years to begin implementation, and I now have agreement from the Finance Minister for new funding once the first four years has been allocated. I also intend to extend the Commission’s life until 2007 to ensure its independent monitoring and advice continues.”

The Commission’s Report on Progress included a section for the first time on the views of mental health service users, Ms King said.

“I was particularly pleased to see this because service user views must be considered in any discussion on progress.

“It was heartening to see that those who provided feedback thought mental health services had improved and that they were positive about the increasing range of community services available.”

Ms King said that given the Commission’s Report on Progress it was timely to be launching the Mental Health Workforce Development Programme.

“My hope is that this programme will lead to a national system to attract and retain mental health staff more effectively. Although it seems obvious, if we don’t train, attract and retain enough mental health workers, we can’t develop better mental health services for New Zealanders.

“Without the appropriate mental health workforce development, services will never be able to cope with the demands they face.”


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