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Mental health changes go too far

Mental health changes go too far

The de-institutionalisation of mental health services has gone too far when at-risk people are likely to be put into independent living to fend for themselves, National's Health spokeswoman, Judith Collins, says.

She is commenting on a report highlighting Health Ministry plans to abolish existing residential care levels, which range from those requiring least support to those requiring intensive support. Existing residential care contracts are not being renewed, and the ministry is quoted as saying it has no definitive replacement plans for them.

"This will force hundreds of vulnerable people out of the supported lodges which they look on as home and which make them feel safe," Ms Collins says.

"Mental health is an area which is clearly not a priority for this Government. Too many people with serious mental health issues are simply ignored until there is a tragedy.

"Mental health issues, like schizophrenia, don't give the Government 'sexy, feel-good' photo opportunities, but that's no reason to ignore the most vulnerable of our citizens.

"Mental health clients need care and support. Not everyone can live on their own, and certainly many of these people will not be able to and don't want to.

"They feel safe where they are and we should make sure we give them that security.

"We must listen to them and their families. They are the people who ultimately pay the price of cost-cutting and political correctness, not the Government or its advisers.

"Why are we changing without something better to put in its place? The Ministry is quoted as saying the changes are not motivated by cost-cutting. If that is the case, then what plan does the Ministry have to support its clients in a more effective manner?

"This de-institutionalisation has simply gone too far," Ms Collins says.

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