New Zealand Labour Party

Kids suffering under mental health strain

A newly released report from the Ministry of Health on the mental health and addictions workforce shows a worryingly large vacancy rate in child and youth mental health services, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.

“The Mental Health and Addiction Workforce Action Plan 2017-2021 shows a whopping eight per cent vacancy rate in infant, child and adolescent mental health and alcohol and other drug services, the estimated equivalent of 141 full time positions unfilled.

“The data shows 170,000 Kiwis in the last financial year accessed mental health services, an increase of nearly 10,000 clients from the previous year.

“Nearly 50,000 are children aged 0-19 years old. It is concerning that child and youth mental health workforce is having to deal with increasing numbers of children needing help but don’t have the resources or the staffing to support them.

“There’s been a 61 per cent increase in presentations to child, youth and community mental health services in Canterbury alone due to the earthquakes.

“As well as this, the Ministry of Health has projected that community and inpatient nurse numbers per 100,000 population are going to fall by 2026, who make up nearly 30% of the mental health and addictions workforce.

“Every week we hear of failings in our mental health system from deaths in care, patient attacks, overstretched counselling services and crisis teams, with staff working more than 60 hours a week.

“The Government needs to do more than look at staff per 100,000 population, they need to look at how many staff are needed to meet demand and fund mental health properly.”

“A Labour Government will review mental health services and restore the $1.7 billion in cuts in health made by this National Government,” says Annette King.