Most people believe the government is failing in providing mental health care - survey

The PSA says an increase in demand for mental health services has not been matched by government funding.
LAWRENCE SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

The PSA says an increase in demand for mental health services has not been matched by government funding.

Only one out of ten New Zealanders thinks the Government is adequately supporting mental health care.

That's according to a new poll released on Wednesday for the Public Service Association.

The poll showed 13 per cent of those surveyed thought the Government was doing enough to make sure Kiwis had the mental health care they needed when they needed it.

A further 60 per cent thought the Government wasn't doing enough and 22 per cent were neutral. Five per cent of respondents weren't sure.

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The public poll, carried out by UMR research, echoed the views of those working in and using mental health services, PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk said.

"The first step in resolving any mental health issue is acknowledging the problem. It is totally negligent for the Government to continue denying there's a crisis. It's clear that the public, workers and service users agree that not enough is being done," she said.

There had been an increase of 60 per cent in mental health service users but only a 28 per cent increase in funding since National came to power, according to Polaczuk.

She said this equated to a cut to funding in real terms. "Health needs an extra $1.1b in this Thursday's Budget just to maintain an unacceptable status quo. Anything less will see further cuts to services and more tragedies."

The survey questioned 750 people between May 10 and May 20 and had a margin of error of 3.6 per cent.

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The survey is the latest criticism against the government's mental health care.

This month, the Government's mental health strategy came under fire after Mike King took a critical stance on its suicide prevention strategy.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson said the Government's 38-page strategy document failed to set specific targets and he agreed with many aspects of King's criticism.

Last month, The People's Mental Health Review was carried out in response to a 2016 announcement funding was being cut from mental health services across the country. 

It found respondents worried about long wait times, strain on workers and an under-resourced system.

The report made several recommendations, including an urgent funding increase for mental health services, a fully independent oversight of the mental health system, and a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the structure and provision of mental health services.

Earlier this year, health minister Jonathan Coleman hit back in defence of the mental health system saying it continued to be a priority for the Government. 

Coleman would not say there was a problem, but he acknowledged increasing demand being placed on mental health and addiction services.

WHERE TO GET HELP: 
* Lifeline: 0800 543 354 
* Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends. 
* Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) 
* Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7) 
* Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz 
* What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends) 
* Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7) 
* Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254 
* Healthline: 0800 611 116 
* If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

 - Stuff

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