Govt puts $100m mental health initiatives

Mental Health initiatives
The decision was influenced by study papers prepared by the Prime Minister's chief science advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman. Photo credit: Mental Health initiatives

The Government is putting $100 million into 17 new mental health initiatives aimed at increasing support for patients and delivering a more effective range of responses to meet people's needs.

The money was allocated in the budget and the initiatives have been strongly influenced by study papers prepared by the Prime Minister's chief science advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman.

The initiatives were announced on Monday by Prime Minister Bill English, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Social Investment Minister Amy Adams.

They include:

  • An approach focused on prevention, early intervention and resilience-building - particularly for school-aged children and young people
  • A more effective range of responses to meet the needs of people in crisis, as well as upskilling the mental health workforce
  • Expanding options which will enable provision of support earlier, in a more accessible way
  • Extending the coverage of support for people experiencing mild to moderate mental disorders.

"The evidence shows that we need to transform our mental health services to build resilience in children and young people to help them better deal with mental health issues and to learn how to overcome known risk factors," Dr Coleman said.

The announcement coincided with the release of the study papers, which were given to Ministers in May this year.

They were drawn up by Sir Peter and several senior ministerial advisors.

The papers say the current system doesn't work well because there are not enough services for those in need, and those services don't necessarily work for all of the people who who need them.

They also say that every year one in five New Zealanders experience some form of psychological distress or develop a diagnosable mental disorder.

"The numbers are increasing because the lives of many of us are becoming more stressful as a result of very rapid changes in the way we live our lives," the papers say.

"Increasing reliance on digital media and communication systems often results in less human contact and, perhaps paradoxically, greater vulnerability to bullying and shaming by others."