Mike King says he's not surprised by reports of New Zealand's mental health patients sleeping on the floor, a revelation he says "is not the exception", but "the norm".
A Newshub report on Monday revealed that as a result of the Government's applauded mental health investment in 2019, just five extra acute beds have been added over almost two years. One patient described sleeping on a mattress on the floor due to there being no available beds at the acute mental health unit in Taranaki.
King, who last week returned his New Zealand Order of Merit medal in protest against the state of New Zealand's mental health services, says it's not even the worst case he's heard about.
"Anyone who is surprised by what they saw has obviously never dealt with mental health services in NZ," the mental health advocate told Newshub.
"Prisoners of war are treated with more dignity."
King said if the system was better, the pressure would be taken off acute mental health services.
"If you have a mental health system that only focuses on crisis, then all you are going to get is more crisis," he continued.
He acknowledged that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern looked "under pressure and devastated" when asked about the state of the country's mental health support on The AM Show on Monday, but urged her to "think about how hard it must be for those poor people who witness it first hand every day".
"This is not just about the patients' well being either. I know for a fact that these working conditions are having a devastating effect on the mental health of staff," King said.
The Prime Minister told reporters on Tuesday the Government was trying to build more crisis care capacity.
"As you've heard me say many times, this has always been a five-year programme because there is that much work to do," Ardern said.
And speaking to The AM Show on Monday, Ardern said the point she wanted to make to King was "no one's said that we're done".
"We know that we need to keep going… we gave ourselves five years to roll out the programme of work across mental health and that includes drug and addiction services."
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