It is going to be a long 12 months if this is anything to go by.
One of the country’s most pressing problems is that the country’s mental health system is in poor shape. The suicide rate over the past 4 years has spiked. Drug and alcohol addiction continue to be significant problems.
This Government’s response was to call for a report. Yes I know that this phrase meets with derision but if you are going to have evidence based responses to crises then this is what you do, get people who are in the know to tell you what the problems are and what should be done to resolve them.
And so the He Ara Oranga report was commissioned and prepared. And after time was spent digesting the report and the proposals the Government decided to implement 38 of the 40 recommendations.
Next came the important aspect of this, the provision of budget. The best made plans and reports will founder without adequate resources. And so in the last budget there was a $1.9 billion budget line established for implementing the accepted recommendations.
And last weekend the roll out started. From the Herald:
Medical centres nationwide have been given $6 million to provide mental health services as the Government looks to spend hundreds of millions it set aside in the Budget.
The money would mean 22 general practices and a kaupapa Māori provider – which already work in the field but aren’t funded – would get assistance, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister David Clark announced today.
The Government says it should mean about 170,000 patients in Northland, Auckland, the central North Island, Wellington and Canterbury keep access to help.
“It makes sense to start with those providers already offering mental health support but who have not been previously directly funded by Government for it and who did not have certainty of funding going forward,” Ardern said.
“They have received nothing to do that to date.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health is expected to shortly put out a call for pitches from new providers of free mental health services from 2020. About $30 million has been set aside for the first round.
“This will be available nationally, allowing local collaborations of health providers anywhere in New Zealand to put forward proposals for their particular region,” Clark said.
“We want to see new and existing health providers, iwi and NGO groups put forward their proposals for innovative services.”
The opposition responded by praising the initiative and the Government’s determination to help those of us who are living in despair.
Nah just joking, they decided to play politics with the issue.
They came out with a generic press release saying the Government is not acting quickly enough to fix up the mess that it inherited from National.
And for some strange reason One News let National brand the announcement as a fail, even before describing the detail of the proposal.
And they let Bennett say that the response was inadequate, even thought it is way more than her government ever did.
Maybe Bennett is right, maybe Labour should have been more acutely aware of the mess they were inheriting and the work that would be needed to improve things.
But Bennett’s and National’s attack lines are more than a little cute.
The next time she talks about this Government’s decisions perhaps she could apologise for the 9 wasted years that her Government delivered to Aotearoa New Zealand.