Mental health funding increase welcome, but New Zealand needs deeper change
The Public Service Association welcomes the government’s decision to inject millions of dollars into frontline mental
Thousands of PSA members work in a range of occupations delivering mental health and addiction services, and they
consistently report the system is in crisis and they lack resources to meet community need.
The union is pleased that funding boosts for General Practitioners and kaupapa Māori services will increase access and
help decrease stigma.
A long-term plan is needed to shift service provision away from an inefficient competitive model toward a more
collective and cooperative alternative.
"Funding constraints have for too long limited mental health services to being the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff,
often accessible only after someone has already reached crisis point and sometimes difficult to access even then," says
PSA National Secretary Kerry Davies.
"This funding increase highlights the need for both early intervention and crisis support services for us to have a
fully functioning mental health and addiction system. It’s a positive step towards expanding access to mental health
support for those with mild to moderate needs."
Disparities in pay, conditions and training currently exist between workers in different parts of the sector,
undermining the ability of some providers to retain employees in high-need areas and causing disconnection between staff
and their peers.
"It’s not unusual for a mental health patient to receive support from multiple specialists in different areas, and we
want the different sections of the mental health system to communicate and cooperate with each other effectively," says
A report from the Mental Health & Addiction Inquiry
has been accepted by the government, which recommends those who receive and deliver mental health and addiction
services help design the systems they are a part of.
A well-resourced system of both early intervention and crisis support must be complemented by fundamental economic and
social change, in order to tackle the inequality and poverty exacerbating New Zealand’s mental health and addiction
"Mental illness is often made worse by long shifts at stressful jobs that don’t pay enough. It’s made worse by cold damp
houses that make us sick, and by a culture that atomises people and divides us from one another instead of nurturing
collective institutions and values," says Ms Davies.
"Additional government funding will save lives and we are happy to see it, but much greater change is needed before we
live in a safe and supportive society."