As part of Mental Health Awareness week, Green Party mental health spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick says we have an opportunity to help normalise conversations about mental ill health and well-being.
“I’ve been out in the regions, in workplaces, mental health services and across university campuses over the past few months learning about the increasing stresses and strains on too many Kiwis, and in far too many cases, ridiculous wait-times to access services, even when needs are immediate and urgent.
“A key message in almost every conversation has been that stigma around mental health issues is still too high, and there are negative stereotypes attached to asking for help, or even speaking out. We need to end that stigma so people can be comfortable in opening up, often when they’re at their most vulnerable.
The Green Party is calling for better services to help address the mental health crisis in Aotearoa.
“We’re proud to be part of a Government committed to addressing the mental health crisis in New Zealand. Our confidence and supply agreement includes a commitment to ensure everyone has access to timely and high quality mental health services, including free counselling for those under 25 years.
“The mental health sector has been chronically underfunded, yet demand for services has grown significantly. The Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction is working to establish a comprehensive response to this crisis, and important work is already underway, including our mental health pilot to develop the workforce and the Mana Ake programme in Christchurch.
“I will continue to push for an increase in funding, including free counselling for under 25s, and greater support for community and youth-led initiatives. Funding would also go towards 24/7 help-lines, crisis assessment teams, child and adolescent mental health services, and youth beds.
“So too, we’re committed to heeding the call and delivering better mental health and well-being education in schools, and developing greater resources for parents, friends, and support people.
“We know more needs to be done because the mental health services in this country are strained beyond capacity, and I’ve heard first-hand time and again that there’s still a huge amount of New Zealanders hesitant to discuss their own mental ill health for fear of stigma.
“We’re working hard to ensure young people get the help they need, when they need it”.