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National attacks Labour for not cleaning up National’s mental health crisis quickly enough

Written By: - Date published: 11:30 am, September 9th, 2019 - 37 comments
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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.

37 comments on “National attacks Labour for not cleaning up National’s mental health crisis quickly enough ”

  1. tc 2

    There's plenty of quotes and soundbites from Nat ministers denying such problems even existed at the time.

    They don't seem to be too arsed about 2020 with a strategy like this IMO. Great way to cleanout though after having used the more toxic actors like bennett throughout the campaign.

    • Chris T 2.1


      "“Mental health is a social investment priority for this Government. It’s one of our most challenging social issues and it affects a large number of New Zealanders with complex needs,” Ms Adams says."

      Think stopping it was one of the first things Labour did, but might be wrong.

      Can’t find a report, so is from memory.

      If so I apologise

      • Incognito 2.1.1

        New mental health care initiatives

        Advice has been provided to the Government on the mental health initiatives announced last year.

        As part of Budget 2017, the previous government established a $100 million cross-agency contingency to trial new approaches to improving mental health, while also helping to build an evidence base of ‘what works’.

        This funding was not appropriated but the government indicated that it would be allocated across 17 time-limited initiatives representing a mix of trials, service enhancement and service expansion across a range of settings.

        The contingency will be used, in part, to fund the Government’s mental health support initiative for primary and intermediate schools totalling $28 million over three years. (Read the news release: Improving mental health services for children in Canterbury and Kaikōura, 22.02.18.)

        The Government has asked for advice on the remainder of the contingency and the nature and current state of each of the 17 initiatives to inform planning for Budget 2018.


  2. bwaghorn 3

    What about general health . It's common her in rural nz to have a 5 day + wait just to see a gp

    • KJT 3.1

      We had better move to the countryside, then.

      Whangarei, if you can even get a GP, it takes two to four weeks to see one.

      Last time I was in A and E. Not in a busy time, an old man with breathing difficulties and a very sick baby both waited 5 hours, at least, because there was absolutely no beds in the whole hospital.

      Constantly bringing in more people, without expanding services in proportion, coming home to roost.

    • A 3.2

      I'm in Tawa, Wellington. To see my GP it's usually a couple of weeks. If I'm really super lucky, and obviously never in winter, I can get in within a three to five day period. He is the most popular in the practice because he actually listens and then goes through logically eliminating possibilities as he makes his diagnosis.

      In an emergency I can see a nurse usually within a couple of days and she can rope in a doc for a couple of mins of prescription time, or it's the A&E.

  3. Ad 4

    $6 million out of $1.9 billion is a small start.

    None so far for existing DHB mental health services.

  4. SHG 5

    Maybe that dropping of all health targets upon taking office wasn't such a great idea.


  5. Grantoc 6


    Its getting boring hearing the labour party and its acolytes continuing to blame national for its own (labours) inability to deliver.

    Labour's in power – they should use it and deliver something/anything.

    Yes it maybe a long 12 months until the next election, especially if labour continues to have major policy failures (Kiwi Build, CGT, Student fees to name some) and continues not to deliver.

    • Dukeofurl 6.1

      "Getting boring hearing the labour party and its acolytes continuing to blame national "

      Why not . Key was still doing it around 2016, ( 8 years later) and the first term did nothing else.

  6. Gosman 7

    On what basis do you claim it is a crisis?

    • adam 7.1

      Must be nice to be in your bubble.

      That fairy tale world of ideological purity….

      • Gosman 7.1.1

        Noone is claiming we should not look at bringing down the rate of suicide especially among some sectors of society. However it is a big jump to claim we are in crisis.

        If we compare ourselves to other nations our overall suicide rate is about average for the OECD and low compated to all nations on the planet.

        The trend in the past few years has been negative and is a concern but prior to that (and under National as well as Labour) it had been going the other way.

        • Incognito

          Do you understand that the issue is not only the number of suicides but a much deeper issue? Do you understand that one of the symptoms is drug and alcohol addiction? I have to ask this because your comments so far have shown a complete lack of understanding and sensitivity around the topic of the OP, a narrow and simplistic ‘definition’ of the problem, and a semantic denial of the extent of the problem.

          • Gosman

            Again we may have a problem however I see no reason nor benefit in labeling it a crisis. A crisis suggests that we should stop focusing on other areas and direct the vast majority of attention to resolving the crisis. Given the fact that any solution to the issues around mental health are likely long term in nature AND the situation in New Zealand is about average for developed nations what is the point of doing that?

  7. Kat 8

    A skipper friend of mine was commissioned to deliver a sailing vessel from one country to another. He was assured the boat was in good shape and ready to go by the previous skipper. When he got to the boat it was a mess, rig needed replacing, sails were worn out, the engine was belching smoke and hadn't been serviced in about nine years, the bronze sea cocks were all seized, covered in verdigris and needed replacing. Then my friend discovered some major leaks that would require the boat to be hauled out and repairs made. It was then apparent that the rudder had been bent and had become dangerously loose, the keel showed signs of a number of groundings and needed extensive rebuilding. The blue antifouling was in bad shape, covered in barnacles and needed scraping and replacing. Getting the boat fit for purpose meant changes in the previously planned departure date and a few decisions had to be made as to a realistic revised delivery time.

    • In Vino 8.1

      Nice analogy – but maybe over Gosman's head?

      • Kat 8.1.1

        For some of these blue poodles even falling in a street puddle would be way over their heads, with the accompanying straw clutching. Apart from the obvious farming roots, straw is very popular in the National party.

  8. patricia bremner 9

    Micky, far from "blaming National", you show the historical gaps in service that the report talked to. 38 out of 40 recommendations accepted and funded is an excellent response by this Coalition Government.

    To Ad, 6 million AND 30 million with funding budgeted up to 1.9 billion, is a start. Money can't be given to entities who do not yet have plans or personnel

    To Grantoc. That is Labour and the Coalition "Doing a great deal inside 3 years".

    Those of us honest enough to state our beliefs are called "Tribal" with connotations of "Simple minded villagers".

    Name calling solves nothing and is part of bullying behaviour.

    Give some positive suggestions instead of claiming "Nothing is happening."

    That is a propaganda meme. Plenty is happening, not all of it 100% successful, but it is aimed at improving Society.

    11 years on, the GFC is really beginning to bite and affect world relationships, and climate problems are adding to the woes.

    Insurance Companies world wide are drawing up lists of uninsurable areas and activities as they find underwriting nigh on impossible.

    Australia is having unprecedented fires in Queensland and Insurance may become impossible here, as whole towns run out of water.

    Areas of NZ are under notice that they are vulnerable to sea rise as Councils meet about strategic retreats from the sea.

    There are problems world wide and planning to assist people in NZ to have a reasonable life has become harder. Any strong swing to the Left would be met with bitter well funded resistance by the entrenched neo-libs.

    Any improvements have to be well planned incremental and funded. The vested interests have to be assisted cajoled and mollified to avoid "fighting in the streets"

    When National is in power, they sell "self help" which is just another way of saying "don't expect any help" So people stop asking and despair sets in.

    When Labour has enough power they are able to effect change, but currently this is a Balanced Government a bit like a Balanced Investment to avoid wild swings.

    So "Steady as she goes".

  9. JustMe 10

    The National Party MPs all appear to have very short memories or rather selective amnesia when it suits them.

    I guess they have quickly forgotten about the fact a beautiful young woman called Sarah Higgins died so early. She left this world too soon as there was probably so much she could have done but sadly it appears she found living too much and did away with herself.

    Unfortunately in their pure arrogance it does appear the NZ National Party MPs are having the 'holier than thou' attitude. They think they know everything and have an answer for everything but where were they when so many committed suicide even during a National government?

    And where was Paula Bennett's voice of concern when Bill English cut funding to Lifeline by $1million but gave $1million to a medical board his wife just happened to be on???!!!!

    It's incredible that National deems themselves to be oh so perfect right now but didn't bother listening to NZers whilst in government. Long may National remain in Opposition because they might learn to be finally human. Still we live in hope and I doubt National knows or has a clue as to how to be human.

    • Chris T 10.1


      Last week, Lifeline launched a new fundraising campaign, saying a lack of money meant it wasn't able to answer one in four calls.

      Homecare Medical gets government funding to operate a number of health, depression, and counselling helplines, known as the national telehealth service.

      It said it had offered support to Lifeline multiple times over the last three years, when its call demand outstripped resources.

      Homecare Medical chief executive, Andrew Slater, said that to date that offer hadn't been taken up.

      "Part of our work is to support the entire health system in responding to New Zealanders' needs. This includes supporting other helplines in their work. This includes advice on technology, sharing operational policy and procedures and during times of peak demand, supporting them when they can't respond to their demand," he said."


    • Stuart Munro. 10.2

      "Long may National remain in Opposition"

      They're not very functional – it'd be nice to see something better frankly; maybe even a conservative alternative that had policies a bit more developed than lying like flatfish.

      • Gosman 10.2.1

        Can you give me an example of a Center right party in the World that you would be more comfortable with?

        • Stuart Munro.

          The use of the blatant lie "centre" immediately identifies them as being in conflict with basic principles like honesty and the public interest.

          But conservative parties are certainly possible without the level of dishonesty and ineptitude that renders National unfit for the even for the compost heap of history, a fatberg that needs to be burned in spite of its negative climate outcomes.

          Korea's LKP and Japan's LDP are with some exceptions reasonably functional conservatives – of course, representing shame cultures as they do, the extremes of dishonesty and corruption that presently characterize National would compel their candidates to kill themselves. NZ Gnats are, however, shameless.

          • Gosman

            The LDP has been hit by numerous corruption scandals over the years. Ditto the LKP of Korea. In fact the LKP President was impeached as a result of a corruption scandal.

            • Stuart Munro.

              True – whereas the utterly corrupt and frankly worthless Gnat leaders continued in power scot free until the electoral worm turned, nor were they prosecuted afterward, as they certainly would have been were they in Korea.

              The prosecution of Park Geun Hye is something of a special circumstance also, the combination of spirit medium charlatanry with its special significance under Confucianism with the antidemocratic excesses of her father saw her treated more strictly than would ordinarily be the case.

              Mind, a little more strictness would not go amiss in NZ at present.

  10. AB 11

    Arsonists attacking the firefighters is always a disgusting sight. But only if they are real firefighters. If they aren't, we will have an even worse bunch of arsonists back in charge in 2023 than we had for 2008-17.

  11. Colin 12

    The hypocrisy on this site is confusing, so much fuss on Keys Pontail Gait which really was a non event, but silence on the lack of action & accountability regarding the Mental Health of the Sexual abuse victims over many months since the event happened. ( Labour Party Conference) Listening to Jacinda Dancing around in Circles responding to Hoskins this morning was a Joke, Helen would never have been put in that position of weakness.

  12. Bennett just makes herself look like a buffoon (which she is ) every time she opens her gob.

    It is barely two years since the COL came into power and sure as hell mental health decline did not start then.

    National just sat on their backsides, all they ever did was to plan a road here, and a road there.

    And back to sleep they went.

  13. The most charitable thing that could be said about the "PB" is that she's 'misread' the label on the bottle, and has been 'mis-speaking' and 'mis-selling' her brand ever since

  14. Colin 15

    I think the Deniers Re- my comment should read the Herald Today, or Listen to all Radio media L & Right, you cannot hide forever or will you bury your heads when Queens Council makes his report what ever his findings.

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