The Ministry of Health welcomes the recommendations of a newly released report about the need for additional mental health and wellbeing support in the wake of COVID-19.
The report – Protecting and promoting mental wellbeing: beyond COVID-19 – predicts an unprecedented/increased need from New Zealanders over the coming months for more mental health and wellbeing support and suggests a move to community-led solutions.
“I’m pleased to see that many of the recommendations are areas that the Ministry of Health is already working in including focusing on communities coming up with solutions that are right for them and providing people with more access to and choice of mental health services including in GP settings,” said Robyn Shearer, Deputy-Director General for Mental Health and Addiction.
“We agree that there is a need to have a paradigm shift from mental illness towards mental wellbeing, and that’s why through Budget 19, the Government provided $455m over four years to invest in primary and community mental health support.”
Last month we announced contracts for $40m of new integrated primary mental health and addiction services involving Health Coaches, Health Improvement Practitioners (HIPs) and community support workers providing free access to mental health and wellbeing support based out of GP clinics.
The rollout of these contracts is happening over the next 18 months as a new workforce of over 350 HIPs and Health Coaches are recruited and trained and will then work in over 130 clinics around the country.
“This is just the beginning. This programme will continue to expand over coming years, including funding of new kaupapa Mâori services, Pacific Services and Youth services. We already have procurement processes underway for these and expect to make contract announcements in the coming weeks.”
“History has shown us that in terms of mental health, the critical timeframe to watch out for is six to 12 months after the crisis. But we do not accept that it is inevitable that there will be a mental health crisis in New Zealand. The more we can do now to help people look after their wellbeing – and resilience – the less likely people are to get into distress down the track.”
The Government invested an extra $15 million in mental wellbeing support through the COVID-19 response that were focused on helping people maintain their mental wellbeing. These included a national multi media campaign focusing on the things we can all do to maintain our mental wellbeing, digital self-help tools like Melon, Mentemia and Staying on Track and boosting capacity for helpline services like Youthline’s webchat.
“We worked quickly to provide information, practical tools and resources during the lockdown period when people may not have had access to their normal supports like friends, family and whânau.”
Since then, the Ministry has released the Kia Kaha, Kia Mâia, Kia Ora Aotearoa: COVID-19 Psychosocial and Mental Wellbeing Recovery Plan that provides a national approach to supporting the mental and social wellbeing of New Zealanders in the COVID-19 recovery period.
The plan provides a framework for collective actions to support whânau and communities to adapt and thrive over the next 12 to 18 months and draws on the directions for mental wellbeing that were laid down in He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction.
“What’s important and in line with the recommendations from Koi Tû is that the plan recognises that communities have a wealth of knowledge, skills and resourcefulness to support one another. In fact, caring for one another is an important action in looking after our own wellbeing, so the plan focuses on strengthening community-led responses and solutions.”
The Ministry is seeking feedback on the plan until 15 June 2020.
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