The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) is dismayed to have been misquoted by TVNZ’s 1 News in their piece about Mike King’s Gumboot Up campaign which was published last night (20 February 2019). We do accept that we did not make clear the things we think are great about the campaign.
For clarity, the MHF unequivocally supports the efforts of NGOs who help people to access free and low-cost counselling and believes Gumboot Up is a fantastic campaign. We tautoko Mike King’s message that New Zealanders should be looking after New Zealanders and the level of public support we’ve seen on Facebook also shows how much New Zealanders care about the wellbeing of our rangatahi, and strongly back the need for better access to counselling.
Initiatives like Gumboot Up can contribute positively to improving the mental health of New Zealanders and fill service gaps in our mental health system – but these are gaps that should not be there.
The MHF’s position is and always has been that it should not be left to NGOs to fundraise to provide essential mental health services. In the same way that schools shouldn’t have to run cake stalls to buy school supplies, charities shouldn’t have to ask the public to fund programmes and initiatives that the Government should be providing freely to all New Zealanders.
Currently, access to free counselling in New Zealand varies by DHB and region and waiting lists are very long.
The MHF is happy to hear the Government’s recent announcement that they will be piloting a programme called Piki in Porirua, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa which will give free counselling and peer support to young people. The MHF is also encouraged by indications that this year’s budget will have a strong focus on supporting youth wellbeing.
Gumboot Up will still be needed and is a great idea. Until new government funded initiatives become wide-spread, which will take years, many people will continue to need charities like Gumboot Up in order to get the help they deserve. Growing the energy of Kiwis caring for Kiwis will always be needed and this is something which Gumboot Up is pushing creatively.