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NGOs Must Work Together to Ensure Continued Service

5 April 2011

Media Release – for immediate release

NGOs Must Work Together to Ensure Continued Service Provision

Non government organisations need to work together in order to continue providing vital services in the face of significant funding challenges, says Platform chief executive Marion Blake.

Ms Blake, whose organisation is a national network of mental health and addiction NGOs, said that with years of austerity measures ahead, it is clear that New Zealand will not be able to invest in health in the way it has before.

“Clearly everybody in the health sector is going to have to learn to do more with less,” said Ms Blake.

“We need to get more creative about how we use what we have and how we deliver services – and one of the keys to this will be collaboration.

“Mental ill health is not going to go away. New Zealand has a high prevalence of anxiety, mood and substance disorders and it is estimated that 47 per cent of New Zealanders will experience a mental illness an addiction some time in their lives.

“It will become essential for elements of our mental health and addiction services to collaborate, work differently with each other and even merge just as we are already starting to see happening in all aspects of organisational life in New Zealand.”

Ms Blake said that GPs should also be able to refer people directly to a community organisation contracted by a District Health Board to provide mental health and addiction services.

“Currently many NGOs can only provide help to people who have come via the hospitals,” she said.

“We need to remove these barriers so that, where appropriate, GPs can refer people with a mental health or addiction issue directly to a community organisation for early and often brief intervention that could prevent them needing to be admitted to hospital.”

Ms Blake said that by working together all community services can help ensure early interventions and address issues that aggravate mental distress such as poor physical health, housing, poverty and loneliness.

“All community service providers are seeing people with mental distress. We need all organisations across the housing, social, community and health sectors to put a mental health lens on all social problems.

“As a country we can continue reforming the health system steadily - but we need to work on transforming it quickly. We must get help to people faster.”

About Platform

Platform provides a contact point for nationwide feedback on issues that relate to mental health and addiction NGOs. It aims to give voice to matters that impact on community organisations’ ability to provide services and to promote the role of New Zealand’s health and disability community sector nationally and internationally.

ENDS

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