Taking mental health seriously

For too long, the mental health of New Zealanders has not been a priority. We're changing that - with the biggest investment in mental health, in any Budget, ever.

As a society, we’ve left too many of our people on their own coping with mental distress or struggling with drugs and alcohol, tackling mental health or addiction only when it becomes a crisis.

The evidence of this problem is clear – we see it in the statistics that consistently rate New Zealand one of the worst countries in the OECD for suicide. We see it in the everyday – our friends, our coworkers, our whānau. With 1 in 5 New Zealanders experiencing mental health and addiction challenges, pretty much everyone knows someone that has struggled with mental health.

We can do better. We must do better.

Do you support taking mental health seriously?


What we are doing

We are taking mental health seriously with the biggest investment in mental health, in any Budget, ever.

We will build entirely new services, train hundreds of new staff and build new facilities across Aotearoa, transforming our approach to mental health and addiction with significant and sustained investment.

Ultimately, supporting and maintaining people’s mental wellbeing will become part of the daily routine of our health services – as it should be.

Our vision for the future is one where people in distress can get free support when and where they need it.

We know long-term challenges can’t be solved overnight, and transforming our approach to mental health and addiction will take some time.

Of course, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. We will work with local communities, iwi and those with lived experience to ensure there are a suitable range of services available.

We’re committed to ensuring that all New Zealanders in need can access free mental health and addiction support that works for them, when and how they need it.

Why this is so important

Improving our mental wellbeing makes economic sense. It’s estimated that in 2014 the economic cost of serious mental illness alone was $12 billion, or five per cent of GDP.

It’s also just the right thing to do. It’s clear something needs to be done, so we don’t leave this as our legacy for future generations.

This Government is committed to tackling our terrible record on suicide, with suicide prevention work woven into so much of what we do in mental health and addiction. The Ministry of Health is finalising a suicide prevention strategy and is working on options for an office of suicide prevention.

It doesn’t stop here

Many of the drivers of mental health and addiction issues sit outside the health service, from housing, to poverty and employment. We are working across Government to tackle these issues and improve the wellbeing of Kiwis.