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Government’s suicide approach disappoints

Mike King’s sudden departure from the Government’s suicide prevention panel, amid claims the Government’s approach is ‘deeply flawed’, is further evidence National is failing on mental health, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern.

“Mental health is reaching crisis point in New Zealand after years of National’s $1.7 billion worth of cuts to health. It’s clear the Government’s approach is, sadly, now driving away some of the people who can do important work in this area.

“Mike King has been an outstanding advocate for better mental health in New Zealand for the past decade. His departure should be a major red flag.

“Last week, the Government dismissed the People’s Mental Health Review as a bunch of ‘left-wing anti-government protestors’ – continuing a recent run of form where Ministers of the Crown personally attack organisations and people who disagree with the Government’s direction.

“Mike King, who was involved with the People’s Mental Health Review, has used his departure to call for an "open and independent review of mental health services" and rightly pointed out that "without an adequately funded sector, and a stocktake of the structure and provision of services, we are just fiddling around the edges."

“Mike King is right. Since 2007/08, there’s been a 60 per cent increase in people accessing mental health services, but funding increases have been less than half of that over the same period.

“Labour is committed to a review of mental health services because we know it is needed all over New Zealand.

“That’s why Labour announced two policies over the past week to put mental health services in schools and GP practices, aimed to redressing National’s imbalanced approach to mental health.

“Labour will introduce a pilot scheme of specialist mental health teams in GP practices across the country to ensure swifter and more effective treatment for those who need urgent help, and extend School Based Health Services to all public secondary schools to ensure all students have access to a comprehensive youth health service,” says Jacinda Ardern.