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Mental health spending reinvents the wheel, say counsellors

The Association of Counsellors (NZAC) is very keen to find out how the Budget’s $455 million for mental health workers to service those with low-to-mid-level mental health problems will be spent.

“At the moment we don’t know and neither does anyone else,” says president, Bev Weber.

“While the concept sounds fine, the devil’s in the detail.”

Weber is concerned the Budget’s spending on new mental health initiatives will see by far the lion’s share going towards the establishment of new frontline services “whatever they are,” she says.

The smallest percentage, by a long shot, goes towards strengthening existing services.

“We have got tried and true existing services that are doing a very good job, but they are terribly underfunded and under-resourced, and have been for years,” Weber said.

“With appropriate funding and resourcing they could do the job they were set up to do in the first place and we wouldn’t need to reinvent the wheel.

“I’d hate to think this government is going to spend money that is desperately needed by existing services on the front line, right now, on setting up a whole new infrastructure and a bureaucracy to service it.

“That’s totally unnecessary; it will waste time and effort, and will divert much-needed funds away from the people who really need support now.

“New Zealanders with mental health and emotional wellness issues will continue to suffer in the meantime.”

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