Mental health, News

Up to 12,000 people will be trained in mental health and addictions issues over the next four years boosting health and wellbeing for more New Zealanders says the Minister for Health, David Clark.

Mr Clark made the announcement at Le Va, a Pasifika health service in Manukau – one of the first organisations to receive additional funding under Government’s plan to roll out frontline services nationwide to support people with mild to moderate mental health and addiction needs.

“As a country we’ve neglected mental health and wellbeing for too long. We know we need to do more to support people in distress, and we are,” Mr Clark said.

HPF’s Deputy Executive Director, Trevor Simpson commended the minister and the Government for taking the lead on mental health and addictions.

“We have known for some time now that over recent years this sector has been neglected by decision-makers so it is timely, refreshing and a courageous step to address the issues head on. It will be very interesting to see how the health promotion and preventative health sectors will be engaged in this important work too.”

Mr Simpson also offered to assist where and when needed.

“We have a strong existing health promotion workforce ready to work with Government on mental health and addiction. We also have well researched ideas, solutions and frameworks that will help us to find ways to stem the flow in the direction of an already burdened health service.”  

Some of the Government’s initiatives include doubling the ‘cultural competency’ programme, to ensure Māori and Pacific people received culturally appropriate support when needed and more than tripling the number of people in community organisations, such as clubs and sporting organisations, who can undertake the Mental Health 101 and Addiction 101 programmes.

Mr Clark added that the extra training would make it easier for health workers to identify when people could benefit from more support.

“Right across the country there will many more people who can provide help and support to people in distress. That means more people will get the help they need earlier – and without having to wait.

In September the Ministry of Health called for Requests for Proposals for $30 million worth of new frontline services. Those proposals are currently being assessed, with new services expected to be contracted and starting from next year.

“We’re developing a range services. We need tailored support for Māori, Pacific peoples, rural communities, LGBTQIA+, youth and others – and we’re working with those communities so that we get services that work.

“That will take time, but we are getting on with job because it will mean better health and wellbeing for more New Zealanders,” David Clark said.