- Date published:
7:59 am, May 19th, 2017 - 38 comments
Categories: health, labour, national, quality of life - Tags: action station, brighter future, list, mental health, Mike King, nasty nats, suicide
Here are some recent headlines on suicide in NZ:
NZ suicide stats highest ever recorded
The highest rate of teen suicide in the developed world
The Horror of NZ’s Suicide Rates
NZ suicide toll: More discussion needed to bring down ‘unacceptably high’ rate, Chief Coroner says
Suicide rate among young Kiwi men double that of young Australian men in recent years
Number of suicides may be three times as high as recorded
It is in this context that this week’s news regarding Mike King is so important (Olivia Carville in The Herald):
Comedian Mike King quits: Govt’s suicide plan ‘deeply flawed’
The comedian and television presenter stepped down from his post on New Zealand’s suicide-prevention panel today, claiming the Government’s recently released draft plan to prevent suicide is “deeply flawed” and self-serving.
The panel was established to help shape a strategy to reduce suicide over the next 10 years. Its Draft Suicide Prevention Plan was released to the public last month.
But key measures – including a 20 per cent reduction in suicides over 10 years – have been removed from the plan.
Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman did not answer a question from the Herald about why the target had been removed.
Speaking to NZ Herald Focus King said a percentage target was important to give people a clear direction to work towards, and that 20 per cent was “absolutely realistic”.
He went further, saying New Zealand should aim for a suicide rate of zero.
King plans to keep working in the field of suicide prevention, he told Focus. “I haven’t quit doing what I’m doing – I’m just not going to waste any more time on a failed plan that has failed for the last 10 years and will not have my name associated with this current plan which is more of the same.” …
Suicide prevention plan ‘deeply flawed’ – Mike King
‘Actually implement things that are going to help’ – Mike King steps down from suicide prevention panel over ‘deeply flawed’ government plan
Real suicides figure is double what’s reported – Mike King
Suicide prevention plan a ‘meaningless statement’ (Mental Health Foundation)
Editorial: Mike King right to seek clarity in vital battle to curb suicides
The flawed suicide plan is symptomatic of National’s failed approach to mental health as a whole. The warning bells have been sounding on mental health for a long time now. National have been slashing funding and services:
Auckland’s crumbling mental health services
Chch mental health funding slashed despite overwhelming demand
Chch mental health cuts ‘put lives at risk’
Mental health services facing cutbacks (ODT)
Cuts to mental health acute care ill-advised say psychiatrists
Coleman’s cuts create crisis
The stark reality: New Zealand no longer has a functioning Mental Health Service
Damning report joins calls for inquiry into country’s stretched mental health services
Pressure is building for the Government to launch an independent inquiry into the mental health sector in the wake of a damning new report.
The People’s Mental Health Review report, released today, canvassed 500 people who have either accessed or worked within mental health services in New Zealand.
Almost 95 per cent of those surveyed had negative experiences of the sector and shared stories of inappropriately long wait times, an over-reliance on medication and an under-resourced, stressed workforce.
“In a number of stories people expressed concern that they couldn’t get the help they needed until their health had deteriorated to the point of crisis,” said ActionStation, the community campaign group behind the survey.
The report recommended urgent funding increases, rolling out mental health education programmes across the country and the reinstatement of the Mental Health Commissioner, to provide independent oversight of the sector.
It also added to recent calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the provision of mental health services – a request made by both the Parents of Children with Additional Needs Collective and the Aotearoa Students’ Alliance just last week. …
Labour’s response was pretty blunt:
Labour leader Andrew Little said Kiwis had “huge concern” about publicly-funded mental health services. The number of service users had increased by 60 per cent since the 2007/08 year, he said.
“The report says patients have told ‘a story of frustration at being unable to access mental health services.’ This is a tragic indictment of the Government’s underfunding with many submitters talking of despair and hopelessness. …
See also Labour questions mental health support as open letter presented to Parliament. Since then Labour has released new 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.
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
So on the issues of suicide and mental health, the choice is pretty clear. Bungling and abuse from National, a positive plan for action from Labour.
Comedian says suicide panel 'would be funny if people weren't dying' https://t.co/W8CcMrsMyB
— Stuff.co.nz Politics (@NZStuffPolitics) May 15, 2017
— Mandy Hager (@MandyHager) May 9, 2017
Here’s a list of helpline numbers from RNZ: