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.
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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.
We made it easier for people to get mental health help early
We’re taking mental health seriously, transforming primary mental health care in New Zealand with a monumental lift in mental health and addiction support.
In September, we signed contracts for 22 GPs that will ensure 170,000 New Zealanders can get mental health support locally.
Our free frontline mental health and addiction service, which we are rolling out in every community over the next five years, will support people who haven’t yet reached crisis point, but who want help.
We know that for too long underinvestment in health meant that the services we did have were overwhelmed. It meant people in distress had to reach breaking point before support was available.
Our plan to put mental health and addiction support services in GPS and kaupapa Māori providers will give people immediate support while also freeing up our expert crisis teams to do the urgent work they need to do.
We announced a Suicide Prevention Office to drive action to save lives
We’re taking urgent action to prevent suicide because every life matters.
Recently, we announced a Suicide Prevention Office will be established to coordinate action already underway to reduce New Zealand’s historically high rate of suicide.
Our rate of suicide is a long-term national tragedy and has been for many years. Change will take time but this plan and the actions the Government has already in place are an important start.
We have already made progress:
- Rolling out frontline mental health services in GP clinics
- Increasing suicide prevention services in DHBs, including more post-discharge support
- Funding to improve support for 15,000 people who turn up at hospital emergency departments experiencing a mental health crisis or at risk of suicide
- Funding free counselling for 2,500 people (per year) bereaved by suicide, whom research shows can be vulnerable to suicidal thoughts themselves.
You can read our strategy here: Every Life Matters - The Suicide Prevention Strategy 2019–2029 and Action Plan 2019–2024 for Aotearoa New Zealand.
If you need help or support you can free call or text 1737 24 hours a day. You’ll get to talk to (or text with) a trained counsellor. The service is completely free.
We are supporting the victims of 15 March
We announced more support to meet the long-term mental health and wellbeing needs of people affected by the terror attacks of 15 March.
Six months on, we continue to acknowledge those who lost their lives, lost loved ones, or were injured, and those who continue to care for the victims and their families. Countless lives are forever changed and we are working hard to ensure it never happens again.
We also acknowledge that will be dealing with the trauma of that day for years to come.
Canterbury DHB has done an incredible job, but there is more work to be done. So we have announced further funding for mental health services in Canterbury over the next three years.
It’s vital that survivors, families, the Muslim community and the people of Christchurch know that we will be there to support them for the long-haul.
We are putting tamariki first
Our vision for the future is one where our young people can get the support they need when, and where they need it. We’re overhauling our mental health system, helping children and the families get the support they need, and have launched a free counselling pilot for young people.
Piki is a pilot programme which helps 18-24 year olds with mild to moderate mental health needs or substance use challenges. It was launched in February in Porirua, before being expanded to the entire Wellington DHB area. Young people can self-refer, including via the Piki website, and receive support through a dedicated app.
It will help an estimated 10,000 young people with mild to moderate mental health symptoms.
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.