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Reactions to mental health report

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 19/04/2017

The Health Minister has rejected calls for an inquiry into mental health services, despite a new report finding more than 90 per cent of respondents were frustrated by the system.

The People's Mental Health Review collected stories from 500 Kiwis about their experiences with mental health services.

It found 464 people had problems accessing or working in mental health services, while only 36 reported positive experiences.

It called for an inquiry into mental health services, an urgent funding boost and an independent body be set up to provide ongoing oversight of the sector and received widespread backing from opposition parties.

However, Minister Johnathan Coleman denied there is a need for an inquiry.

"Overall the sector provides high quality mental health services for New Zealanders," he said.

While acknowledging increased demand for all health services, he said the Government had already increased mental health and addiction services funding from $1.1 billion in 2008/09 to over $1.4 billion for 2015/16.

Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little disagrees, saying the mental health system is broken with 60 per cent more people wanting to access mental health services now than in 2007/08.

"As I have criss-crossed the country, talking to Kiwis, the huge concern about our mental health service has been astounding," he said.

Mr Little and Green Party health spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said the National Party had eroded $1.7 billion in funding from the sector and an inquiry was the only way to get to the bottom of the issues.

New Zealand First health spokeswoman Barbara Stewart said Kiwis were falling through cracks in the system.

A coalition of health professionals behind the campaign says the government needs to spend $1.85 billion more on health services and was in "wilful denial about the mental health crisis".

"There is unprecedented agreement between families, patients and the workforce that mental health services are broken," organiser Simon Oosterman said.

"When the Government plays politics with health, people suffer - and in the case of mental health, people die."

He said there were 535 suspected suicides in mental health care in the last four years.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline's 24-hour telephone counselling service on 0800 543 354.

Depression Helpline (8am to 12 midnight) - 0800 111 757

Healthline - 0800 611 116

Samaritans - 0800 726 666 (for callers from the Lower North Island, Christchurch and West Coast) or 0800 211 211 / (04) 473 9739 (for callers from all other regions)

Suicide Crisis Helpline (aimed at those in distress, or those who are concerned about the wellbeing of someone else) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email

What's Up (for 5-18 year olds; 1 pm to 11 pm) - 0800 942 8787

Kidsline (aimed at children up to 14 years of age; 4pm to 6pm weekdays) 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline)

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