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National Winding Back Mental Health Work

The Minister for Mental Health has found the Suicide Prevention Office and mental health support for 111 calls slipping through his fingers, says Labour spokesperson for Mental Health Ingrid Leary.

“Minister for Mental Health Matt Doocey scrambled together some big promises to fix the muddle that was made of the Suicide Prevention Office, but has failed to secure any full time employees to do the work that the office is set up to do,” Ingrid Leary said

“On the one hand the Minister has said the Suicide Prevention Office will stay open and on the other hand there will be no staff at all working full time on preventing suicide. Sadly, this looks like a Clayton’s office — an office that exists in name only, so the Minister can save face after closure announcements were bungled at the Beehive.

“Not only does the Minister not have the influence required to maintain focus on suicide prevention, Police assistance with mental health 111 call outs are also about to slip through his fingers according to indications this week from the Minister of Police.

“We were expecting a Cabinet report in March on the progress this co-response model, but apparently it is missing in action, which speaks volumes about this Government’s priorities.

“So far, Dooey’s solutions appear to suggest text messaging and Telehealth referrals for mental health calls and that’s woefully inadequate when someone could be about to harm themselves or others.

“Labour worked hard towards integrating mental health treatment and support to our public health system. National should be committing to continuing the Access and Choice programme which has delivered over one million support sessions to the public, rather than cutting front line services.

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“Just last week we saw a proposed cut to ACC’s Prevention of Sexual Violence programme. Minister Doocey has also shown no concern that the Family and Sexual Violence work of the previous government is being diminished — yet the evidence shows very strong links between preventing family harm and preventing suicide, especially for women.

“Matt Doocey is a Minister for Mental Health who might mean well but he clearly doesn’t understand the links of the issues and has no influence when it comes to prioritising funding and resources for what is recognised as a crisis in New Zealand,” Ingrid Leary said.

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