Mental health workforce
Workforce development is a priority for the Ministry of Health. Health Workforce New Zealand funds a national infrastructure for workforce development in the mental health and addictions sector.
Workforce development looks at the whole workforce system – education and training, recruitment and retention, leadership and management, organisational culture. Simply put, it is about ensuring that the right people are in the right place doing the right thing at the right time – for the benefit of people who need to access services.
Background to mental health workforce development
Workforce development involves supporting organisations such as district health boards and non-government organisations, to develop a capable workforce to deliver excellent services.
The work outlined in Tauawhitia te Wero – Embracing the Challenge: National Mental Health and Addiction Workforce Development Plan 2006-2009 is centred on the needs of service users and their families/whanau.
A national structure has been set up to address some priority service areas in mental health – two examples of this are Te Rau Matatini which aims to better meet the needs of Māori by growing the Māori workforce, and The Werry Centre which aims to address the needs of children and young people who need to access services. Both of these population groups need to have a responsive workforce to ensure their needs are met – Māori are over-represented in mental health and addiction statistics, and if children and young people can get help early it will give them a better chance of recovery from an episode of mental illness or addiction.
Addictions has also remained a priority area for workforce development with the requirement to have a highly skilled workforce for people who need help with alcohol, drug and/or gambling addictions. This is an area that often overlaps with mental health and is being addressed by Matua Raki.
Te Pou addresses the needs of the populations above plus the areas of Asian, Pacific, service user, family and adult mental health and addictions. Te Pou is the National Centre of Research and Workforce Development – linking research and workforce development together to address areas such as worker competencies (knowledge, skills and attitudes), national training needs, recruitment and service improvement.
There is also funding for training via the Clinical Training Agency (which is now the Investment Relationships and Purchasing arm of Health Workforce New Zealand) for post-entry clinical training (PECT) and psychiatry training.
All the work being done with mental health and addictions workforce supports the District Health Boards New Zealand workforce action plan which has a whole of health workforce approach. Mental health and addictions workforce development are addressing gaps in service access and delivery.