New Zealand Labour Party

Minister deaf to mental health issues in Canterbury

The people of Canterbury will be shocked to hear that the Minister of Health believes there is no problem with mental health funding in Canterbury, says Labour’s spokesperson on Health Annette King.

“Jonathan Coleman has wilfully ignored DHB mental health figures that show child and youth cases are up 67 per cent, and adult psychiatric assessments at Emergency Departments have risen by 102 per cent since 2012.

“The Canterbury District Health Board has told Parliament’s Health Select Committee their mental health services were under ‘unprecedented pressure’ from the Canterbury earthquakes and now detainees returning from Australia.

“Chief Executive David Meates says because of the earthquake five years ago, it won’t be business as usual for providers for at least 10 years.

“It is clear that part of the problem is that the DHBs have to conform to a Ministry of Health model that sees Canterbury funded at a lower level when it comes to mental health services.

“His admission that Canterbury sits significantly below the rest of New Zealand means that the Ministry must reform its spending model for events like the Christchurch earthquake.

“The Government’s criticism that they had been given a $16 million funding boost last year which could have been spent on mental health is nonsense. That money was earmarked for the board’s budget deficit. They have refused to give them any additional cash.

“We need to do better for the future generations of Canterbury. Already five year olds are turning up to school with developmental issues that can be traced to the earthquake,” says Annette King.