Mental health services get fast-tracked with new funding

David Clark.
David Clark. Photo credit: Getty

Health workers are breathing a sigh of relief as the Government ramps up its mental health response amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

A further $40 million is being invested into 100 new free mental health and addiction services, on top of the 22 already existing across the country.

Pinnacle Midlands Health Network spokesperson Maree McCracken says the initiative is working in Taupō, where it was introduced in July last year.

"Within weeks were hearing stories of the impact the services had made, so we're really delighted to hear there's going to be further progress on implementing these services around the country at this really challenging time for New Zealand."

The programme will be fully rolled out by the middle of next year.

McCracken says it has already made a huge difference - the key being the lack of wait times.

"Sixty percent of people that our team have seen in Taupō and Turangi since July last year were either seen on the day they presented or the next day. Traditionally services in that community have had long waits - up to 12 weeks." 

The services will help an estimated 1.5 million people once fully rolled out.

McCracken said in Taupō and Turangi, primary health services used to help 150 people with mental health issues a year - in the first seven months of operation, the dedicated service helped 1000.

"That's quite a big difference in terms of impact in the community." 

Health Minister David Clark said many people right now would be " feeling distress or anxiety about the future because of COVID-19". The country has been in lockdown since late March in an attempt to wipe out the disease, which has killed nearly 200,000 people worldwide and 17 Kiwis.

"We want people to know that it's normal to feel this way in times of uncertainty, and that there is free support available for people to talk with a professional."

Where to find help and support: 

  • Shine (domestic violence) - 0508 744 633
  • Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 (0800 REFUGE)
  • Need to Talk? - Call or text 1737
  • What's Up - 0800 WHATS UP (0800 942 8787)
  • Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
  • Youthline - 0800 376 633, text 234, email or online chat
  • Samaritans - 0800 726 666
  • Depression Helpline - 0800 111 757
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
  • Shakti Community Council - 0800 742 584