'Significant' mental health announcement coming

The head of the Mental Health Foundation says he has no idea what the Government has in store for the sector.

Health Minister David Clark and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern are set to make a "significant mental healthcare announcement" on Thursday afternoon in Wellington.

It follows the conclusion of a series of meetings around the country, where people with experience of the mental health system got to have their say on how it can be improved.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson told The AM Show on Friday it finally looks like the "broken" system is getting the attention it deserves - but it could take 15 or 20 years to fix.

"We have to start immediately, but it has to build over that time. We have to get all political parties signing up to this - it can't be a political football.

"The last Government did drop the ball, and I know they are starting to recognise that they dropped the ball. But quite frankly, all political parties have got to take some of the blame on this."

While he doesn't know what Dr Clark and Ms Ardern have up their sleeves, he suspects it will be something around improving the existing services, rather than a new initiative. Current mental health services supplied by DHBs are only intended to help around 3 percent of people - those in most need - but not the present-day "tsunami" of patients.

"There is huge pressure on services - demand has almost doubled in 10 years, and the funding's only gone up by less than half."

In the long-term, Mr Robinson says fixing the country's social issues will be key.

"We cannot ignore that many of mental health issues are actually social issues - it's things like bullying, child poverty, abuse, sexual abuse, neglect - it's not rocket science... Really go hard on trying to solve some of these big issues that drive people's trauma."

Dr Clark and Ms Ardern will announce the "significant" announcement at the Capital and Coast District Health Board's  Rātonga-Rua-O-Porirua Mental Health Campus at 1:30pm.

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