Mental health advocate Mike King hits out at Ministry of Health after Gumboot Friday application declined

Mental health advocate Mike King has hit out at the Ministry of Health and the Director-General of Health after his funding request was declined.

In an interview with The AM Show on Friday King claimed the Ministry of Health has a personal grudge against him - and that's why his funding request for Gumboot Friday was rejected.

The Ministry of Health's deputy chief executive sector support and infrastructure Robyn Shearer told Newshub the application came outside the time frame for procurement, meaning it could not be funded.

"This means the Ministry of Health is unable to fund Gumboot Friday – or any other charity or service – at this time," she said.

 "Procurement rules are designed to make sure there is a transparent, fair and equitable process, and to make sure there can be robust evaluation of applications."

But King says this excuse is a "red herring" and the lack of funding is a personal grudge from the Ministry.

"It absolutely is personal, they want to get rid of me, they really do, they dont want a dumb uppity comedian running in there with no school certificate telling them how to do their job - but the irony is the person best qualified to find a bad joke is a comedian and the Ministry is a bad joke." 

King says he has tried to engage with the Ministry for many years, but has come up against bureaucracy at every turn.

"I've done everything in my power to make it easy for them. I offered Andrew Little Gumboot Friday for free - it cost me half a million to build and I said, I don't care where the money goes if it's saving our kids."

The Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield was criticised too with King labelling him guilty of '"institutionalised arrogance".

King accused Bloomfield of refusing to read his '1000 letters report' which analysed suicide notes to find common themes to inform future prevention efforts.

Government agencies called for the controversial report to be scrapped because it did not have Health and Disabilities Ethics Committee approval. Privacy and safety concerns were also raised.

The Health and Disability Committee said more than 100 people with lived experience of suicide were "concerned" about the approach taken.

In late October 2019, the psychiatrist in charge of the '1000 Letters' campaign Dr Siale Foliaki acknowledged to Checkpoint that the study could do harm.

Newshub contacted the Ministry of Health to ask whether Bloomfield had refused to read the report, but a spokesperson for the Ministry said they had no comment to offer at the time of publication. 

After the interview on The AM Show, King told Newshub "he had been up all night supporting a mental patient and hadn’t slept. He says he was "probably a bit emotional", and regrets comments aimed at Doctor Bloomfield.

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