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September 23, 2019 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Government Announces New Mental Health Policies


The government announced a raft of mental health initiatives earlier this month, including details of its long-awaited Suicide Prevention Strategy.


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister David Clark began a week-long series of announcements by revealing a boost in funding for more than 20 underfunded frontline services. 


Victoria University’s Mauri Ora is one practice which will receive additional funding. 


David Clark said the investment will make it easier for people in distress to access help earlier which will “prevent small issues becoming major problems”.


The government also released Every Life Matters, a strategy and action plan to reduce the rate of suicide in New Zealand.


New Zealand’s suicide rate is 11.3 per 100,000 people—a “national tragedy” according to the Prime Minister. This figure increases sharply to 28 per 100,000 for the Māori population.


The changes announced include free counselling for those bereaved by suicide, extra support services for high risk groups like Māori, Pasifika, and gender-diverse people, and better support for children and young people in schools.


However, the government has come under fire for not implementing a specific Māori suicide prevention strategy.


The Whakamanawa report, a summary of Māori submissions made to the government’s mental health and addiction inquiry, heavily supported a separate Māori strategy. The report recommended it be designed and run by Māori, for Māori.


A Suicide Prevention Office was also announced to lead efforts in the area.


The final announcement of the week included details of the government’s initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission.


The commission will provide independent scrutiny of the government’s progress in improving New Zealand’s mental health and wellbeing and promote collaboration between mental health groups.


It will also pave the way for a permanent commission which is to start work in February 2021 once a law is passed.


However, mental health advocates say there is a lack of people with lived experience on the commission.


Kelly Pope is the only member who has personally been through the mental health system.



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