The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) is pleased the Government is taking mental health seriously by creating a $1.9 billion mental health package, announced in today’s Wellbeing Budget.
“The funding and initiatives set out in today’s budget are a fantastic start, but it’s crucial Government keep up the momentum into the future if we are to create a New Zealand where all people can experience positive mental health. We are pleased to see the Minister acknowledge that more funding will be needed over multiple years,” MHF chief executive Shaun Robinson says.
“Funding the establishment of a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission provides leadership to hold the government accountable for on-going investment and progress,” Mr Robinson adds.
The Wellbeing Budget tackles key social determinants of mental health such as housing, child poverty, and family and sexual violence.
“Addressing these factors will go a long way to creating a more just society where every New Zealander feels safe, valued and respected, so they thrive,” Mr Robinson says.
The MHF is pleased to see the Budget acknowledges the considerable mental health inequities Māori face. Steps are being taken to address this through allowing a flexible approach to service design and delivery. Iwi based and other Kaupapa Māori services are acknowledged and their development is supported in the plans for major new services for early support for people with mild to moderate needs.
“The Budget will also fund up to eight programmes designed to strengthen personal identity and connection to the community and will also scale up successful kaupapa Māori initiatives,” Mr Robinson says.
As part of the on-going development of mental health, all levels of services must develop cultural responsiveness.
“One size does not fit all and it’s really heartening that the Wellbeing Budget addresses the importance of co-design of services with local communities, people with lived experience of mental distress and the wider mental health sector. This is paramount if services are to make real, impactful change.”
The MHF is pleased the Government is investing $40 million into suicide prevention.
“This is an excellent start in addressing the number of deaths from suicide, but much more will be needed to turn things around. There are some good initiatives in the package. It’s great to see that people bereaved by suicide will receive up to four sessions of free counselling. It’s also important that the need for media guidelines has been supported. Once again the budget acknowledges the significance of the suicide prevention issues for Māori, as well as those of Pasifika and Rainbow communities,” Mr Robinson says.
Supporting the wellbeing of our rangatahi also features strongly in the budget.
“We are excited to see that new resources will be made available to teachers to promote mental resilience in primary and intermediate schools. It’s crucial that the funding also go to Kura Kaupapa, Kohanga and Wharekura to ensure equity. This building of wellbeing skills in children will have life-long benefits and will prevent mental health problems. It will also enhance the scale up of the school nursing programme.”
“Overall the MHF feels positive and hopeful that mental health is being taken seriously by our Government. We will continue to work with them, hold them to account, and advocate for a better New Zealand for everyone”.
Comment is available from Shaun Robinson, CEO, Mental Health Foundation
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