Week That Was: Rolling out mental health support

This week was a mental health week of action! We rolled out mental health and addiction support in GPs, announced our suicide prevention strategy and much more!

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.

This week 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.

This week 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’re making sure New Zealand history is taught in all schools

This week we announced changes that will see New Zealand history become part of the local curriculum and marau ā kura in every school and kura!

This is something so many New Zealanders care a lot about – so we’re doing something about it.

As well as things like Tudor England students will now be taught about our own history and identity, as well as the important leadership role New Zealand plays in the Pacific.

For example if you live in the Waikato, you should have the opportunity to learn about the Waikato land wars. If you’re in the North, you should be able to learn about the Treaty Grounds and the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. 

We won’t be overly prescriptive, but what our changes will do is make sure there is more detail at each level of the curriculum about the kinds of New Zealand history that needs to be taught.

Our changes will take place over the next two years, ready for implementation in schools and kura from the 2022 school year.

We are supporting the victims of 15 March

This week, 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’re keeping our communities safe

In April, we took action to remove military style semi-automatics from our communities. Now we are taking the next step to prevent firearms from reaching the hands of criminals.

We’re taking action to restrict gun ownership to responsible users, to stop the flow of guns into the black market. The terrorist attacks in March exposed weaknesses in our laws which we have the power to fix.

We know that the majority of gun crime is committed by people without a licence, with firearms that have either been stolen or traded illegally. We have a plan to ensure that only honest, law-abiding citizens are able to obtain firearms licences and use firearms.

We’ve introduced a Bill to Parliament that includes the creation of a firearms registry to enable the monitoring and tracking of every firearm legally held in New Zealand.

Our plan is about keeping communities safe, by strengthening the framework for the safe use and control of firearms.

Read more about what we’re doing here