New mental health care initiatives

The Government has announced new mental health initiatives that take a social investment approach to preventing and responding to mental disorders in New Zealand.

These initiatives cover distance and electronic therapy, support in schools and step-up/ step-down support for people experiencing acute and emergency mental health needs.

The proposals represent a new social investment approach to preventing and responding to mental disorders in New Zealand. This means looking at the whole of peoples’ lives and the factors that can affect their mental wellbeing. It also puts increased focus on building resilience earlier before problems become acute.

This long-term approach is built on evidence-based advice from the Government’s Science Advisors. It draws on the day-to-day experience of professionals caring for people with mental disorders as well as collaboration between the Ministries of Health, Social Investment, Justice, Education and Social Development and feedback provided during the consultation on a draft suicide prevention strategy.

The different agencies involved will work closely with their key stakeholders and providers to co-design the proposals.

Overview of proposed strategic framework for mental health

Mental health initiative
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Overview of proposed strategic framework for mental health

Drivers of change:
  • Shared responsibility
  • Social investment approach
  • Grounded in the life course
Targeted effort:
1. Promote mental wellbeing and prevent mental disorders
  • Intervening early in the life-course to reduce future demand
  • Targeting risk factors and key transition points in life
  • Universal approaches to building resilience and addressing stigma.
2. Effectively identify and respond to the needs of people with mental disorders
  • Needs are identified and support provided early in an illness
  • Responses are people/whānau centred, holistic and culturally appropriate and address gaps
  • New and innovative responses are co-designed, making use of new technology and multiple workforces
Areas for focus:
1. Supporting the developmental needs of children and young people
2. Transforming delivery to address service gaps
3. Providing holisitic responses to people/whānau with multiple or complex needs
Individual/whānau outcomes
  • People are better able to deal with setbacks
  • Fewer people need mental health services
  • People with mental health disorders get appropriate support as early as possible
  • People with mental disorders live fulfilling lives, contributing to society
  • Fewer deaths by suicide and incidents of self-harm
System/Government outcomes
  • Less pressure on the health, social and justice systems
  • Lower costs to government and communities
  • Improved social, justice and economic outcomes
  • More equitable mental health outcomes


  • Investing in workforces – building capacity, capability and new ways of working
  • People/ whānau centred – culturally responsive service design and delivery
  • Data, research and analytics – to enable a social investment approach
  • Social and cultural capital – including the use of mātauranga Māori

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