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Second Mental Health Plan marks a new era

28 June 2005

Second Mental Health Plan marks a new era

The Second New Zealand Mental Health Plan signals a new era in mental health and addiction services in New Zealand, says Health Minister Annette King, who launched the plan in Wellington today.

Te Tähuhu – Improving Mental Health 2005-2015: The Second New Zealand Mental Health and Addiction Plan, provides the strategy for delivering mental health and addiction services for the next 10 years. “This Government made mental health services one of our top priorities,” Ms King says. “The new plan is designed to sustain the momentum created over the past five years particularly in funding and providing mental health services.

“One in five New Zealanders reports a mental illness, including addiction, at any one time. Five of the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide are psychiatric disorders. Depression will become the second leading cause of disability in the world by 2020. It is absolutely essential, for the sake of all our people, that we continue to improve mental health services to meet our needs.”

Ms King says the second plan “builds on the gains and successes we’ve already made and importantly, unlike previous strategies, sets outcomes the Government expects state services, and other agencies, to meet.

“The plan also identifies 10 leading challenges that must be addressed if those outcomes are to be achieved. Addressing these challenges will require leadership from a wide range of groups and individuals within communities, and one important aspect of this plan is that it is flexible enough to allow us to re-prioritise objectives if new challenges arise, as they almost certainly will.”

Ms King says that when Labour became the Government, New Zealand was spending $575 million on mental health services each year. “We entered office with a commitment to fund implementation of the Mental Health Commission’s Mental Health Blueprint. We have been doing that as fast as staffing resources have allowed, and in the coming year we will be spending $885 million on mental health services.

“That’s an increase of more than 50 per cent since we entered office and we are seeing the results in terms of the percentage of New Zealanders accessing services, greater access to specialist services, increased clinical capacity, steady progress in moving people from institutional to community based care, and a rapid growth in the provision of services by NGOs and Maori mental health providers.

“New Zealanders can see the differences our investment in mental health is making, and it is important that continues to be the case. That’s why I welcome the emphasis on outcomes in the new plan. The next step will be developing an action plan to implement the strategy, and I am told this will be ready to be considered by Cabinet in March next year.”

Ms King says challenges for the next 10 years include areas such as promotion, prevention, workforce development, primary health care services, and strengthening transparency and trust.

“This Labour-led Government will continue to build stronger and more accessible mental health services in the future, but to do so we will need the continuing commitment of health professionals and communities. I am confident that commitment will be made.”

Questions and answers

How does this plan build on existing mental health strategies? Te Tähuhu- Improving Mental Health builds on the current Mental Health Strategy, contained in Looking Forward (1994) and Moving Forward (1997). In addition to these documents, the Mental Health Commission's Blueprint For Mental Health Services in New Zealand: How things need to be has become an important document establishing service levels that guide the development of mental health services. The Government remains committed to implementing the Blueprint.

Will there be major changes to mental health services? This plan broadens the Government’s interest in mental health from people who are severely affected by mental illness to all New Zealanders – while continuing to place an emphasis on ensuring that people with the highest needs can access specialist services.

The plan aims to build and broaden the range and choice of services for people who are severely affected by mental illness, and also takes advantage of the new opportunities provided by the Primary Health Care Strategy, including the establishment of Primary Health Organisations (PHOs) to enhance services for people with mild to moderate illness.

How can this be achieved? This plan recognises the need to improve the level and quality of services overall. Although services have grown significantly since Moving Forward was published in 1997, and much has been accomplished, much is still to be achieved. The Plan recognises ten leading challenges that must be addressed in order for mental health service provision to continue to develop. Particular gaps and areas of priority have been identified.

How will PHOs be involved? The establishment of PHOs provides a significant opportunity for the further development of mental health care in the primary health care sector. They offer an opportunity to develop effective services, establish alliances with providers and weave mental health considerations into every aspect of primary health care.

Primary health care practitioners are best placed to identify potential and existing mental health problems at an early stage. Te Tähuhu -Improving Mental Health looks to strengthen the role of PHOs in communities to promote mental health and wellbeing and prevent mental illness.

ENDS

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