Record numbers of New Zealanders reaching out for help
Record numbers of New Zealanders are reaching out for mental health help and the Government needs to ensure that services are properly prepared and resourced to assist people, the Green Party said today.
The annual report of the Office of the Director of Mental Health shows an increase from 143,060 people seeking help in 2011 to 162,222 people in 2015.
“More New Zealanders than ever are reaching out for help, which is a good thing, but we need to ensure that our mental health system is prepared for this increased pressure,” Green Party health spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.
“We know that there are gaping holes and across-the-board inconsistencies in the standard of care being offered to people who seek help for their mental health.
“Suicide is at an all-time high, young people are having to wait far too long for assistance, and six different DHBs have had local inquiries after significant problems.
“The Green Party has consistently called for a wide-ranging national inquiry into our mental health system – it’s the best way to get to the bottom of the issues facing our mental health system and the people who rely on it for help.
“It is a good thing that people are reaching out for help, it shows that mental health messages are getting through, but people need to know that they will be seen in a timely manner, and that help will be available.
‘Despite overall waiting times being close to target, we know that young people’s needs are very clearly not being met. Thirty percent of young people who seek help for mental health issues have to wait longer than three weeks to see a service, and 29 percent have to wait longer than eight weeks for a follow up appointment,.
“Our health system has been underfunded by $1.7 billion since National came to power, and the strain is showing on our mental health system.
“We know that the events of the last week with natural disasters will have an impact on people’s mental health, and we need to learn from Christchurch to be proactively prepared with a high functioning mental health system.
“At the moment there are significant and clear gaps in our mental health system, and a mental health inquiry is the best way to find out how to make our system better,” said Ms Genter.