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Funding For Health Justice & Housing All Positive

Budget Funding for Health, Justice and Housing are All Positive for Mental Health

New Zealand’s major provider of community mental health services has welcomed the cross-party commitment to new initiatives and urged immediate action on early intervention, de-stigmatisation and services for young people.

Dr Gerry Walmisley, chief executive of Richmond Fellowship New Zealand, says the $257.4million towards the funding targets set out in the Mental Health Commission’s Blueprint is extremely encouraging.

“It’s significant, too, that people with mental illnesses will also benefit from the Government’s funding initiatives for policing and state housing. These are all part of the wider package of intervention and support services that people with mental illnesses need to have their rightful place in society. It’s a step towards a more integrated approach that looks beyond treatment of clinical issues and stops people falling into the justice system by default.”

“I note that the National Party says the $257.4million wasn’t enough, but really it’s better to have the funding building up over time so that we have a steady and sustainable development of services,” he said.

“Given that we have a chronic shortage of mental health professionals at all levels, it would be pointless to try and inject the full $300million right now. There are simply not enough people available to run all the additional services we need.

“We hope that this funding will be directed towards more community based services, but also into acute services so that patients can be referred into community-based services before their illness has reached an advanced stage. This will allow the non-governmental providers to focus on further innovation and development of services that achieve measurable gains.”

“We’re pleased that the extra funding is being fed through over an extended period of time and hope the mental health system can start addressing the additional training and workforce development that New Zealand so desperately needs.”

Dr Walmisley says services that achieve early intervention are the top priority, including services that address New Zealand’s shocking youth suicide statistics. This should include more acute services and initiatives that allow agencies to work together across multiple funding streams.

“Annette King and the Labour-Alliance Government are to be congratulated for making such a substantial commitment to mental health. If there’s one weakness in the whole package, it’s the absence of initiatives for supported employment. That’s a vitally important aspect of providing a real place in society for people with mental illnesses.”

Ends

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