Duncan Garner: Mike King's criticism of mental health system a seriously big blow for Government

OPINION: I have a list of my five favourite Kiwi blokes, all for similar reasons, mostly brilliant, hugely complex, some very funny and all are selfless.

They continue to put others first every day, and in my book that matters. Karma will look after them all. 

So, in no particular order: Sir Bob Harvey, Sir Graham Lowe, Malcolm Mulholland, justice campaigner David White and Mike King, and it's Mike I want to focus on today.

It's Gumboot Friday. His charity raises money for free counselling for young people, so damn necessary because it's so bloody hard to access the system.

Mike is the country's barometer when it comes to mental health. 

It's no secret Mike struggles with his mental health. He's used the system, he's seen it from both sides, he's a constant whistleblower and on his truth test, it's failing badly, still. 

It's no better than when it was really really bad, if not broken, a few years back. 

This is a seriously big blow to the Government's rhetoric that they're fixing the system. 

There was $1.9 billion to overhaul the spluttering mental health service in the Budget two years ago and it's now so bad, Mike is handing back his NZ Order of Merit medal for work done in this area. 

He blames the bureaucrats who spend the money to make things happen. "Useless", he says.

Mike says there are counsellors available but there's a reluctance from the ministry to actually hire them and pay them.

Duncan Garner hosts The AM Show.