Mental health inquiry opportunity to help shape funding

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by Greta Yeoman

A public meeting to be held in Timaru next week will help inform mental health funding in next year’s budget.

Health Minister David Clark said the lack of increased funding for mental health services in Budget 2018 was because the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction would provide recommendations about the services for Budget 2019.

The inquiry is set to hold a public meeting in Timaru on Thursday, which will allow South Canterbury residents to share their thoughts on the state of mental health and addiction services in New Zealand.

The May 31 meeting will be held at the Trust Aoraki Tennis Centre, 27 Benvenue Ave, starting at noon.

People are also able to make submissions to the inquiry online.

Dr Clark said the outcome of the inquiry would inform funding for mental health and addiction services in the next Government Budget.

The inquiry would report back to the Government in October, he said.

“That time was chosen deliberately so that the Government can consider its recommendations as part of the Budget 2019 process.”

Dr Clark said it was “not appropriate” to pre-empt the work done by the inquiry, which was why there was a delay in additional funding.

There was set to be a pilot programme for free counselling and evidence-based therapy services for young adults aged 18 to 25, over the next three years, but this was not going to be nationwide.

The Courier sought clarification from the Ministry of Health regarding the location of the pilot scheme but no reply was received by deadline.

Dr Clark said the Government had also extended the nurses in schools programme to include all decile four schools – estimated to enable 25,000 school pupils to access care and support from a nurse at their school – as well as making it cheaper for about 600,000 people to visit their doctor.

“GPs are often the first medical professional people contact and can refer people on to specialist mental health services.”

For more information on the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, visit www.mentalhealth.inquiry.govt.nz.