Long waiting times for young people seeking mental health help

The Health Minister needs to urgently undertake an inquiry into mental health services, after new figures have revealed that young people are facing unreasonably long waiting times to receive the help they need, the Green Party said today.

Thirty percent of young people who seek help for mental health issues have to wait longer than three weeks to see a mental health provider, and of those, 1337 young people had to wait longer than eight weeks in 2015/2016. The figures, released by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services from the Ministry of Health, also show that more young people sought help for mental health issues in the last year than in any of the previous five years.

“Mental health services are struggling all around the country because of Government cuts to the health system, and our vulnerable young people are paying the price,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said today.

“Jonathan Coleman needs to explain to families around the country why their loved one can’t get the mental health help they need, when they need it.

“The Government can’t keep making excuses for why the mental health system is failing New Zealanders. The Minister needs to undertake an urgent and wide-reaching review of mental health services, otherwise more lives will be lost.

“These young people are sometimes in life or death situations. They are seeking help for a range of mental health issues, including severe depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

“They should not have to wait weeks on end to get the medical help they need.

“Central Auckland and the Hutt Valley are two areas of major concern; more than 40 percent of young people in the Waitemata DHB area have to wait longer than three weeks for help, while almost 60 percent in the Hutt Valley have to wait longer than three weeks.

“The National Government has underfunded DHBs and community services, scrapped the Mental Health Commission and chosen to focus resources on targets that don't include mental health. The most vulnerable in our society are the ones bearing the brunt of these decisions.

“These figures come on top of a number of damning reports that show the mental health system is under strain.

“There urgently needs to be a nationwide mental health inquiry, similar to the Mason Reports in the nineties, to ensure that New Zealanders are able to access the mental health support that they need,” Mr Hague said.

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