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ProCare welcomes Govt funding for mental health support

Government funding commitment in Budget 2019 for mental health support in primary care

Barriers to mental health and addiction services will be dramatically reduced for New Zealanders as a result of the government’s commitment to funding programmes which increase access to mental health and addictions support in general practice; such as the innovative pilot programme Te Tumu Waiora.

Te Tumu Waiora is a model of care that provides free and immediate access to dedicated mental health and addiction support in general practice. The programme puts mental health and wellbeing at the heart of the practice, with the introduction of new focused roles, a Health Improvement Practitioner (HIP), Health Coach and community support workers as part of the care team.

ProCare, New Zealand’s largest primary health organisation, has been instrumental in piloting the programme, say dedicated funding for such programmes will greatly increase access for those with mild to moderate distress so they get timely help for physical, emotional and social issues so things do not escalate.

“We are delighted with the government response to He Ara Oranga and commitment of significant funding in Budget 2019 to support mental health and addiction support in primary care.

“General practices have long term trusted relationships with many patients and frequent interactions, which makes it a logical place to expand capability and access to support for mental health and addiction issues”, says Johnny O’Connell, General Manager of Patient Services for ProCare.

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“We’ve been working really closely with our sector colleagues to develop new models of care so people have easier access to quality mental health support in a timely manner. Over the past two years Te Tumu Waiora has been successfully piloted in eight general practices across Auckland, giving people immediate access to dedicated mental health and addictions support and the data shows positive outcomes.”

The model incorporates a range of innovative approaches such as health coaching, behavioural health consultancy and community support workers, which are all aligned around an integrated primary and community approach to mental health and wellbeing. Many traditional roles within the practice setting are enhanced as part of the programme such as mental health credentialed nurses.

Data[1] from the pilot shows the approach is working exceptionally well, with services reaching up to three times as many people as conventional services, and 66% of people seen on the same day for talking therapy (compared to 5% for conventional talking therapy services) and over 80% of people reporting an improvement in their wellbeing. Most importantly the new approach is closing equity of access gaps across all ethnicities, including Māori and Pacific.

Dr Allan Moffitt, ProCare’s Clinical Director, says “We know that for some GPs, the percentage of patients presenting for mental health-related issues can be significant. It is therefore critical that we find ways to develop our general practices to expand their teams so they have the ability to offer patients ‘skills before pills’ support, a crucial part of early intervention. Te Tumu Waiora also removes the stigma around seeking support for mental health, it just makes it part of normal everyday healthcare.

“We are thrilled to see a funding commitment which will enable the expansion of mental health and addictions support in general practice nationally”, comments Dr Allan Moffitt.

Te Tumu Waiora has been collaboratively developed with DHB, NGO, PHO and client involvement using a co-design process and drawing on best available evidence. The programme has been working successfully in eight Auckland general practices since November 2017 and has recently expanded nationally via the Te Tumu Waiora Collaborative to include another eight general practices via programmes set up by Northland NHB, Lakes District DHB/Pinnacle Midlands PHO, Tu Ora Compass PHO, Pegasus PHO.

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