CEO of the New Zealand Mental Health Foundation, Shaun Robinson, formerly the CEO of the New Zealand Aids Foundation. Mr Robinson took up the role with the Mental Health Foundation several months ago telling the "express; your gay voice" that “The Mental Heath Foundation are a kind of sister organization to NZAF. They are also about prevention rather than treatment. And a lot of the skills and approaches I have learned during my time at NZAF will be very useful in my new role of keeping people well in terms of their mental health”
New Zealand’s Mental Health Foundation and its position on suicide prevention is under question today as the organisation makes its position clear on recently released data and calls for a national review into the historically high rates. The Foundation, which receives a significant amount of funding by way of the New Zealand Government, was asked if they would support a national review. The organisations CEO, Shaun Robinson, said
“Our view is that a national review would likely be a waste of time and resource.”
The statement is in stark opposition to the more than 350 submissions that have already been made to the “people’s review project” which was established to try and get a handle on why the New Zealand rates of suicide were out of control.
So far the submissions show that:
- More than 70% of people who have accessed mental health services in this country have had a negative experience
- Staff are overwhelmed and burnt out by a system that is overworked and under resourced
- Suicidal New Zealanders are reporting wait times of up to 14 weeks to access the help they need.
- Suicidal New Zealanders being told that they aren’t “serious” enough to be seen, and are forced to make serious attempts on their lives to access services
- Multiple stories of frustrated, and sadly in some cases bereaved families, who have tried and tried to access services for their loved ones clearly in mental distress.
Meanwhile Mr Robinson went further in his statements by saying “it is fairly clear where the pressure points are within the response to the mental well-being of New Zealanders. It is far better that the sector and community, including Government, focus on trying to address those pressure points…there are more constructive things we can do…”
Mr Robinson failed to indicate what the exact pressure points were although the Foundation has issued a media release. Calls for comment to the Foundation have so far gone unanswered.
New Zealand Mental Health Foundation gets millions from the New Zealand Taxpayer
By all accounts the New Zealand Mental Health Foundation ran an operating surplus in 2014-15 of $147,059 on operating revenue of $5,267,286. The Foundation also had significant reserves of $1.3 million up from the $1.163 recorded previously. According to the statements staff had access to $80,000 worth of credit card limits and is primarily funded by the Ministry of Health, Health Promotion Agency and the Ministry of Social of Development. The Foundation received more than $4.5 million form the New Zealand Government (the primary funder) and a smattering of smaller foundations and donations.
The New Zealand data:
• 579 people died by suicide in the 2015/16 year.
• 564 in 2014/15
• Female suicides increased by 34
• Male suicides reduced by 19
• 25-29-year-old age group recorded highest number (66)
• Figures include 8 people aged between 10-14 and 16 aged 75-79
• Māori suicides down by one, to129
• Canterbury had highest number, 78
• Waikato was second with 55
• People who were employed had highest number at 252
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