In his annual report released last week, Dr. John Crawshaw, National Director of Mental Health, admits that Mental Health Services in New Zealand are currently “under pressure” due to a record number of New Zealanders accessing help.
This unprecedented level of demand was of course before the recent events in North Canterbury, and what people on the ground are already describing as an understandable surge in people presenting with anxiety and related complaints.
“Despite Dr. Crawshaw’s optimistic tone, a closer reading of the report details a Mental Health system that is struggling to meet current levels of demand, and this is consistent with the submissions the People’s Review have received” says Kyle MacDonald, People’s Mental Health Review spokesperson.
“Of ongoing concern is the lack of detail about how the Ministry plans to meet this increased demand, especially seeing our Government seems more interested in punishing District Health Boards for exceeding their budgets, than actually funding services based on demand."
Despite ongoing claims of increased funding, independent figures show that our health system nationally is underfunded by $1.2 billion, due to the government's failure to keep pace with population growth.
This funding shortfall is nowhere more evident than our all time high deaths by suicide in the last year.
Despite the most New Zealanders ever losing their life to suicide on his watch, Dr. Crawshaw reports over 80% satisfaction levels, along with increased demand, as evidence of ongoing success. This is in contrast to the People’s Mental Health Review, where early analysis suggests around a 30% satisfaction with our public mental health system, with access and lack of treatment options the most common concern.
“One of the reasons we started the People’s Mental Health Review was what appeared to be a large gap between the reports we were hearing from the Ministry of Health, and from our colleagues in the trenches. To those who work in the system, and for clients experiencing this “pressure” first hand, the Office of the Director of Mental Health’s annual report simply reinforces what we already know: the Ministry is out of touch."
The People’s Review is now awaiting details of the increased funding that will be required to meet the increased demand, along with predicted demand surges in North Canterbury, Canterbury and the Wellington regions. NewsNow will be watching developments carefully.
• 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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