Labour’s mental health policy

Written By: - Date published: 11:03 am, May 12th, 2017 - 13 comments
Categories: health, labour - Tags: , , ,

Labour has outlined a mental health policy:

Under Labour’s fresh approach to mental health services, we will establish a two-year pilot programme of primary mental health teams at eight sites across the country to work with GPs, PHOs, DHBs, and mental health NGOs. These sites will be selected to meet high needs populations, including Christchurch, which has seen a surge in mental health needs. The programme is expected to help nearly 40,000 people get the assistance they need for each year of the pilot. This will be an investment of $43m over two years, funded through Labour’s commitment to reversing National’s $1.7b of health cuts.

Mental health teams will be based on site with primary care providers, such as GPs, to offer free, accessible help for people with mental health issues before and after crises. Early intervention and continuing care will help people avoid significant mental health distress and assist them to live their lives fully.

Each mental health team will comprise mental health service co-ordinators, who will be doctors or other medical professionals. It will be their job to help people navigate the system and integrate the care from GPs, PHOs, NGOs, and DHBs, creating a sustained programme of care for each individual. This will mean patients will deal with the same health professionals throughout.

The programme will provide funding for:

  • Increased capacity for GPs to conduct interventions and make appropriate referrals
  • Mental health service co-ordinators to be based with primary care providers
  • NGOs to provide social assistance such as help getting a job or finding somewhere to live
  • Increased access to counselling
  • Coordinators to facilitate shared care between GPs and DHBs

A full review of the pilot will be taken after two years with a view to rolling out the programme nationwide over time.

Good stuff! Compare and contrast with National’s systematic under-funding of mental health, and their arrogant response to the issue:

Jonathan Coleman’s attack on ‘anti-government’ ActionStation is a smokescreen. And it’s nonsense

The minister of health has dismissed a report on mental health claiming the authors are ‘left-wing anti-government protesters’. ActionStation’s Marianne Elliott responds.

You know the saying: ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’?

Well, the message is that New Zealanders are deeply concerned about the state of our mental health system, and heartbroken about the family and friends we lose to suicide every year. We’re just the messengers.

The “we” in that sentence is the ActionStation community of everyday New Zealanders, hundreds of whom shared their stories with the People’s Mental Health Review, and 12,800 more who added their names to an open letter asking the government to consider the findings of that review.

So when the minister of health, Dr Jonathan Coleman, dismissed the recommendations of the People’s Mental Health Report on Tuesday because “the people behind the report” were “left-wing anti-government protesters”, that is who he was dismissing.

Attacking the messenger is a classic diversionary tactic when you don’t want to face up to the message itself. But in this case the issue is too important for mud slinging. People are dying. If deaths by suicides continue at the rate they were reported last year, four people will have died by suicide since Coleman responded to our open letter with an attack on the people behind it on Tuesday. …

Read on for plenty more. And vote these heartless Nats out in September!


Coverage of the Labour announcement:

Labour wants mental health teams within GP practices, free appointments for mental health issues
Labour would spend $43m on mental health teams
Mental health consults at the GP free under Labour, Andrew Little announces
Labour promises new mental health programme to create ‘front door’ to services

13 comments on “Labour’s mental health policy”

  1. Michael 1

    I note that the “increase” is restricted to a pilot-study, albeit in eight sites across the country (better than the two sites that I believe I ead in an earlier announcement), thus implying that it is not a long-term measure and will cease on the study’s conclusion. Notwithstanding that any improvement in the provision of mental health treatment is welcome, I wonder whether leaving the statutory gatekeeping measures in place will really lead to better outcomes for people with mental health problems? At present, treatment providers are able to resort to the “serious danger” critreria in the legislation, answer in the negative, and decline to provide treatment. As we know, there are sometimes tragic results when treatment is denied to people who really need it but have been assessed otherwise. There seems to be no appeal mechanism either. Another unaddressed matter is that the causes of mental disorders are multifactorial. For example, the very first anecdote in the People’s Mental Health Review concerned a person whose mental disorder was aggravated by WINZ – a common circumstance. I see nothing from Labour that this factor, or others, will even be acknowledged, let alone remedied. Overall, I give Labour a C minus grade for this policy, which is a significant improvement from some of its earlier policies.

    • Sacha 1.1

      It won’t be the only thing they do to improve mental health services, just trying a different new approach in one part of the system. Not sure how well this will be communicated, of course.

      Increasing DHB budgets and creating a new Mental Health Commission seem likely under a Labour/Green govt. Less so under a Lab/NZF one I guess. But a Nat/poodle govt cannot admit they’ve dangerously underfunded health for years compared with soaring need from demographic changes and population rises – so I can’t see much geniune improvement under their stweardship.

    • Nope 1.2

      I don’t think you know what a pilot is.

  2. anderrawshark 2

    Michael, it is good that at this stage it is a pilot study. They need to find out how the service goes, measure the outcomes and tweak it (hopefully the tweaks won’t be major). I think this service will overcome the “serious danger “issue” because the services resort to that because they are chronically understaffed/underfunded.

    The evidence is very clear, early intervention, targeted evidence based treatment ensuring the best outcomes.

    If it wasn’t so outrageous, I would have laughed when Jonathan Coleman announced improvements to the 24 crisis line terming it “early intervention”. To anyone who has worked in the area, Dr Coleman displayed his complete ignorance of the area when she said this……………………………

  3. Cinny 3

    THANK YOU SO MUCH LABOUR, THANK YOU.

    This start to mend and improve mental health services for kiwis will save lives.

    So many people delay going to the Dr until it is too late purely due to the cost of a visit. Too late for those with mental health difficulties results in suicide. It’s as cut and dry as that.

    I told someone today about this policy and they burst into tears. That’s how important changes like this are. One has to have been touched by the lack of mental health support in NZ to truly appreciate how valuable this policy is.

    THANK YOU.

  4. Psych nurse 4

    This initiative does not go far enough, this helps the worried well, the big issues concern acute inpatient care. Actually what is needed is a massive increase in social housing. Acute units are clogged by now well patients who have no where to go, homeless people have realized that you can get a bed by fronting crisis teams saying the magic word Suicide and gaining admission, this is why the units at the DHB I work at, run at 125% occupancy. Overcrowding does not help people recover, does not let staff do their jobs well.
    We do not need extra beds but somewhere for people to live in the wider community.

    • Cinny 4.1

      Woahs, appreciate your the insight, I never knew how bad things were getting in that sector as a result of the housing crisis. So many suffering out there, homeless people having to leverage mental health just to have somewhere to sleep. Stretched DHB’s, overcrowding, leading to those in desperate need of mental health support suffering even more. Not a healthy work environment for the good people in that sector either.

      It’s incredible the flow on affects from the housing crisis, it’s just awful.

      • Psych nurse 4.1.1

        No it is not a healthy work environment, my role is to ensure the next shift is staffed, sometimes the A shift [night] has only one or two nurses doing a double shift, that is 16 hrs , sometimes that may be twelve doubles, that means nurses awake for 24 hrs followed by a drive home, not safe for them or others on the road ,not safe for patients, mistakes with medication become more frequent, decision making impaired but without overtime, units would be unstaffed, nurses don’t care about the money but fill the vacancies because of a duty of care. My DHB has an active recruitment policy but no takers nationally or internationally.There is a world wide shortage of Mental Health Nurses. For the idiot Coleman to constantly spout rubbish about X number of nurses having been employed since national came to power, a figure that doesn’t take population growth or an ageing population into account makes my blood boil.
        Nurses are being constantly assaulted we always have staff on long term sick leave which costs them income, you would think that work place injuries would guarantee income but no, you loose the first week of ACC from your sick leave and then only 80% of your salary.
        So no it’s not a healthy environment.

        • mickysavage 4.1.1.1

          Cheers PN and thanks for the comments. Much aroha …

        • ankerawshark 4.1.1.2

          Gosh this is so much worse than when I worked in the services…………………

          I realize the problem with demand on inpatient beds and housing. But it doesn’t need to be either or.

          There is some evidence if people with psychosis have good f/u in the community, they are less likely to need inpatient care.

    • gsays 4.2

      Cheers from me too.
      It occurs to me, any substantial change, for a sector so underfunded for so long, will take time.

      • Michael 4.2.1

        So we shouldn’t expect anything from Labour in the way of fewer people killing themselves then? Your comment reminds me of the stock response to people complaining that the last Labour government wasn’t interested in their problems: “We can’t do anything to help you now, but keep voting for us and look out for our long-term policies”. There’s only so much of this any electorate will put up with; by my calculations, the people of NZ reached the point of no return with Labour in 2005.

        • gsays 4.2.1.1

          Hi Michael,
          What I was eluding to was putting too much stock on a 2year trial.
          There has been a prolonged, systemic erosion of mental health investment.
          This will take an effort to change.

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    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Step Too Far.
    A Crown Asset? For reasons relating to its own political convenience, the Crown pretends to believe that “No one owns the water.” To say otherwise would re-vivify the promises contained in the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly those pertaining to the power of the chiefs and their proprietary rights ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where Money Comes From
    Most people would say, no doubt, that they have a pretty good idea of what money is. They live with the reality of money every day. It is what is needed to buy the necessities of life and to maintain a decent standard of living. You get money, they would ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Banned by the Green Party leadership: Jill Abigail on women’s rights and trans rights
    The article below was an opinion piece that appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Te Awa (the NZ Green Party’s newsletter) and on the Greens website.  In keeping with their policy of hostility to women defending women’s right to female-only spaces, Green bureaucrats have since removed the opinion piece.  ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The fallacy of the proximity argument.
    Longer term readers may remember my complaining that, as a political scientist, it is burdensome to have non-political scientists wanting to engage me about politics. No layperson would think to approach an astrophysicist and lecture him/her on the finer details of quarks and black holes, but everybody with an opinion ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Where We Stood: Chris Trotter Replies To Stevan Eldred-Grigg.
    Joining The Fight: Stevan Eldred-Grigg's argument for New Zealand staying out of the Second World War fails not only on the hard-headed grounds of preserving the country’s strategic and economic interests; and not just on the soft-hearted grounds of duty and loyalty to the nation that had given New Zealand ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Universities back the climate strike
    On September 27, School Strike 4 Climate will be striking for a future to pressure the government for meaningful climate action. This time, they've asked adults to join them. And now, Lincoln University and Victoria University of Wellington have signed on:Victoria University of Wellington has joined Lincoln University in endorsing ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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