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Bold Budget Making Wellbeing the Norm: Doctors

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) welcomes the first Wellbeing Budget on child and whānau wellbeing and applauds that many of the initiatives could be transformational for people, families and communities.

“We saw from the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry and Welfare Expert Advisory Group reports that people and whānau are caught in broken systems, and they are in crisis” said Dr Jeff Brown, NZ President of the RACP and a paediatrician at Palmerston North Hospital.

The proposed new frontline service places trained mental health workers in general practices, Iwi health providers and other health services, and is expected to support 325,000 people with mild to moderate mental health needs by 2023/24.

“Our national Health Survey shows around 8 per cent of the Aotearoa New Zealand population over 15 years of age will have experienced symptoms of anxiety, depression and hopelessness in a four-week period.”

“Having these services integrated and available through primary care offers the chance for early intervention and support, but to be fully operationalised it will require a well-trained, well-resourced and culturally safe workforce”, Dr Brown said.

“We know that around a third of New Zealanders, especially our Māori and Pasifika whānau, and people on lower incomes, are more likely to have unmet health needs – we need to keep working to reduce barriers to primary care to ensure the success of the new frontline service for mental health.”

The continued emphasis on children and young people’s health and wellbeing across the Wellbeing Budget priorities was also welcomed by the RACP, said Dr Brown. “We must invest in our children for them to grow up healthy, loved, safe and valued by society”.

“Since 2017, the RACP has been calling on the government to prioritise the health of our people and make whānau wellbeing the norm. Today’s announcements of funding for frontline mental health and addiction services, addressing family and sexual violence, and the first reporting on the Child Poverty Act, show that the coalition government is taking positive steps to shift the narrative on what is important for the future of Aotearoa New Zealand”.

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