Budget 2019: Mental health, wellbeing and addiction initiatives

Budget 2019 takes a transformative approach to mental health, wellbeing and addiction systems and services in New Zealand.

The Ministry of Health has a stewardship role to transform New Zealand’s mental health and addiction system. We are leading the work on many of the 13 new Budget 2019 mental health, wellbeing and addiction initiatives outlined on this page.

For information on the Vote Health announcements outside of mental health and addiction, visit our Budget 2019 page.

Detailed information on the funding provided in Budget 2019 can be found on the Government’s Budget website, including other wellbeing initiatives led by other government agencies.

Many of the Budget 2019 initiatives strongly align with the Government’s response to He Ara Oranga, the report of the independent inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction.

Over the coming weeks we will add information to our website about these new initiatives:


Establishing a Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission

Budget 2019 sets aside funding to establish a Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission. This will strengthen the leadership and oversight of the mental health and addiction system, helping us achieve the transformational change signalled in He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction.

Preventing suicide and supporting people bereaved by suicide

Suicide prevention work will be expanded and improved under this initiative. This initiative complements work already underway on a new national suicide prevention strategy and a suicide prevention office.

The initiative will include:

  • establishing a national suicide bereavement counselling fund providing free counselling for people bereaved by suicide
  • tailored Māori and Pacific suicide prevention initiatives addressing New Zealand's persistently high suicide rates
  • an expanded family and whānau suicide prevention information service
  • more suicide prevention services in district health boards, including increased post-discharge support
  • reviewing the Office of the Coroner’s data sharing service
  • an improved suicide media response service, supporting responsible discussion about suicide across all media and social media.

The Ministry of Health will make more information available on this work on its website. We will track progress and its impact on suicidal behaviour, with a focus on reducing the number of suicides in New Zealand.

This funding complements the Expanding access and choice of primary mental health and addiction support initiative that will help people get support when they first need it. This will prevent some people’s mental health needs escalating to a risk of suicide.

Improving support for people experiencing a mental health crisis

Each year, around 15,000 people come to emergency departments experiencing a mental health crisis or at risk of suicide. This initiative will improve the health workforce’s capability to support these people by funding different needs across regions, including training and upskilling of emergency department staff who respond to people experiencing a crisis, or connecting with peer, community or spiritual support.

Expanding access to and choice of primary mental health and addiction support

This initiative will improve access to, and choice of, primary mental health and addiction services for all New Zealanders who need them. The initiative will be rolled out over five years, so that anyone can access mental health, wellbeing and addiction support when and where they need it.

It strongly aligns with the recommendations in He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction to expand access and choice, and enhance wellbeing, promotion and prevention.

The Ministry of Health will carry out an extensive process to co-design services that meet the specific needs of people in different regions. Māori, people with lived experience of mental health and addiction, Pacific peoples, young people, the Rainbow community and people living in rural areas will be represented in the co-design process.

Greater access to services and more choice about the kinds of support available are a core part of this work, including in kaupapa Māori organisations, Pacific organisations, general practices, community and youth settings. For example, this could include support to build skills and resilience to manage their own mental health if appropriate, or ongoing support through therapy or distance counselling for people who can’t make traditional appointments. 

More details will be confirmed during 2019, including the process for co-design.

Expanding telehealth and digital supports for mental wellbeing

Free mental health and addiction support available over the phone, and online, will be expanded in Budget 2019.

Telehealth and digital services such as 1737 reduce the financial, physical, geographic and psychological barriers of accessing mental health support, particularly for people living in rural or isolated areas, and those living with disability. People can also access support outside of regular working hours when their usual supports such as counsellors are not available.

This initiative aligns with the He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction themes to expand access and choice, and enhance wellbeing, promotion and prevention.

Expanding and enhancing school-based health services

Young people’s wellbeing needs will be better supported by investment in existing health services in decile 1–4 secondary schools, and expansion into publicly-funded decile 5 secondary schools.

Around 77,700 students at decile 1–4 secondary schools and 5,600 more students at decile 5 secondary schools can access the services.

The initiative includes early intervention, electronic wellbeing assessments and funding to upskill the nursing workforce to meet the needs of young people. School-based health services include health promotion, sexual health services, and a universal health, disability and development check in Year 9.

Promoting wellbeing for primary and intermediate children

Enhancing the resilience and mental wellbeing of primary and intermediate aged children can help them for the rest of their lives. This initiative will give more than 522,000 primary and intermediate aged children and their teachers, in 1,946 schools, access to resilience-building and mindfulness resources.

Forensic mental health services for adults and young people

Budget 2019 provides more funding for mental health services for adult prisoners and young people with combined mental health needs and offending behaviours.

Fifty-seven new community fulltime equivalent staff (9 senior medical officers and 48 community nursing and allied health workers) will facilitate treatment and management of people reintegrating into the community or needing court reviews.

The initiative also increases services for young people in response to raising the youth justice age from 17 to 18 years, which may result in more young people within the system.

Forensic mental health services are in high-demand. This investment will ensure safe and secure mental health services are available for people within the justice system or integrating back into the community.

Enhancing primary addiction responses

Primary health services to help people experiencing alcohol and other drug (AOD) challenges have been underfunded for some time or, in some cases, do not even exist.

This initiative will expand the range of support available to approximately 5,000 people each year with mild to moderate AOD addiction issues, including short-term interventions, counselling or group therapy.  

Mental wellbeing support for parents and whanau

Parental mental health and addiction issues can have substantial impacts on children. Working with parents can reduce harm both to themselves and their existing and future children.

This initiative expands a successful substance abuse harm reduction and minimisation programme to develop, test and evaluate enhanced support for parents and whānau with mental health and/or addiction needs during pregnancy, the first years of a child’s life, or following a stillbirth.

Intensive parenting support

Parental use of alcohol and other drugs has substantial impacts on children, health and education systems and communities.

Pregnancy and parenting services are an intensive outreach service for pregnant women and parents who are experiencing problems with alcohol and other drugs and who are poorly connected to health and social services. These are currently offered in four sites.

This funding expands services for pregnant women and parents with children under three years of age to two more sites. Each site will be able to support about 100 women and their family and whānau every year.

Enhancing specialist alcohol and other drug services

This initiative will lift the quality of residential care, detoxification and aftercare support for over 2,000 people who use specialist alcohol and other drug (AOD) services each year, and ensure these services are sustainable.

District Health Boards will receive funding to help alleviate cost pressures in AOD residential care and detoxification services and the funding will enable the Ministry of Health and the Department of Corrections to fund AOD residential services more adequately.

Te Ara Oranga - continuing the methamphetamine harm reduction programme in Northland

Te Ara Oranga is a methamphetamine harm reduction programme supporting a population with complex health and social needs in the Northland region. It works with local health services and police to support around 500 people addicted to methamphetamine and other drugs, and their families and whānau.

This funding means Te Ara Oranga will continue, allowing Northland DHB and police to keep helping those who need it.

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