Mental health help to come earlier

Mental health help to come earlier

Kiwis are to get easier access to emergency mental health services, with hopes it'll keep people out of hospital and reduce pressure on services.

The number of people seeking access to mental health services annually has increased from around 96,000 to 164,000 over the past 10 years.

The Health Minister says early intervention can make a huge difference.

"As part of the response to this, Budget 2016 included $12 million of funding over four years to increase support for people to access mental health services at an earlier stage," says Jonathan Coleman.

With this new funding, when a member of the public rings 111 or Healthline, they will immediately be able to get hold of expert mental health advice on the end of the phone.

"This initiative will help strengthen the system for mental health response to people who reach out to police, health, social, and community services at a time of mental health crisis or distress, identifying appropriate responses, referrals and support," says Dr Coleman.

The funding also aims to give GPs get faster access to specialist help for their patients, and a local mental health pathways programme will better direct people to help in their communities.

"This will benefit the many people who seek out local help and advice for themselves or others on mental health issues every day.

"Providing people with easier access to the mental health system at an earlier stage, which means we can deal with problems before full-blown crises emerge."

The initiatives will be phased in across all district health boards, with the rollout expected to be completed by the end of 2017.