Release: National must take mental health seriously

Mental Health Minister Matt Doocey and his Government colleagues have made a meal of their mental health commitments, showing how flimsy their efforts to champion the issue truly are, says Labour Mental Health spokesperson Ingrid Leary.

“One hand obviously isn’t talking to the other in the Beehive, as Matt Doocey desperately scrambled last night in a statement to media in which he contradicted the Minister of Health and leading Ministry officials,” Ingrid Leary said.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if people now see the much-hyped Minister of Mental Health role as tokenistic, an unfair perception given the seriousness of mental health in New Zealand – someone just forgot to tell National.

“What’s worse is the Minister is on the record saying suicide prevention is a priority for him, and that he wanted the office to be supported better to deliver on the ground.

“The Office was established after the strong recommendations of the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction. It brought focus to the work in the suicide prevention space and strengthened the roles and work in this important area.

Dismantling the Suicide Prevention Office may come at the expense of lives. The Minister of Health, who seems to be overseeing these cuts, needs to stand up and take some responsibility for this backwards and dangerous idea.

“Health workers and the sector deserve better than this from the ministers that are supposed to be championing them,” Ingrid Leary said.

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