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Government has room for improvement to curb mental health crisis, Mental Health Foundation says

It's a good start, but there's more work to do to curb the mental health crisis, the Mental Health Foundation says.

Described as a nationwide "epidemic", the issue took centre stage during last year's election and was a major drawcard for Labour.

Prime Minister and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said at the time, "If you're going to talk about hope, then my view is we need to do something about mental health in this country".

One year on, Ms Ardern says the Government has "moved as quickly as we can" to improve mental health.

Part of the changes include dedicated mental health support in Kaikoura and Canterbury primary and intermediate schools; a $10 million cash injection to pilot free counselling services for under 25s and extended school-based health services to decile four schools.

Mental health campaigner Mike King said the Government "deserves more praise than we are giving them".

However, some say there is still room for improvement, including on the topic of suicide prevention.

Mental Health Foundation CEO Shaun Robinson said, "Now that's definitely been kicked for touch until the inquiry comes back. It does make sense in some respects, but there are probably some things that they could have done".

An overstretched workforce is also proving problematic.

"You know, it's all very well to say, 'We want services' or 'we want to put mental health workers into schools', but are those workers there?" Mr Robinson said.

The Prime Minister recognised the "workforce issue", and said the Government has "tried to scale it up as quickly as we could".

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick has spent the past week talking to university students, where education has also been a recurring concern.

"When somebody falls over and breaks their leg, you know that you call an ambulance, but when somebody's having a mental health breakdown, we currently don't have a go-to resource," Ms Swarbrick said.

The independent inquiry into mental health and addiction - due to report back next month - will form the backbone of the Government's response to the issue. Those on the frontline are keen to see what's implemented - and how quickly.

"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a new ship," Mr King said.

"What I fear is going to happen is we're going to continue to throw patches on the old boat."

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    The Mental Health Foundation says there’s room for improvement in the government’s work on mental health. Source: 1 NEWS