Government pledges $6 million for mental health, targeting GP providers

The Government has today announced the first major investment into mental health from Budget 2019. 

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The Government announced it will spend $6 million on helping up to 170,000 people receive free mental health support. Source: 1 NEWS

It will roll out $6 million in funding for existing but currently un-funded mental health services starting early 2020.

The services will be provided by 22 general practices across the seven DHBs, as well as a kaupapa Māori provider.

The government said today that the programmes are aimed at reaching 170,000 people who need mental health support.

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David Clark and the Government announced a $6 million investment into mental health. Source: 1 NEWS

"For too long mental health has been neglected," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

"We know there's huge need out there for mental health support – that's why we made investing in mental health such a priority in the Wellbeing Budget."

Health Minister David Clark said today's announcement shows the Government is intent on expanding access to mental health support for people with mild to moderate needs.

"We need to make it easier for people to get help early, so that we can prevent small issues becoming major problems," Dr Clark said.

"That's what these services are designed to do.

"Having a mental health worker on hand when people turn up at primary care in distress means there is support available immediately."

Mr Clark said the Ministry of Health will soon be putting out for tender $30 million of new contracts for front-line services in places that don't currently have them.

"Multi-year funding will be available, supported by the $455 million over four years provided in the Wellbeing Budget for these services, which will also expand regional coverage over time," he said.

The Green Party welcomed the announcement.

"Part of the Green Party’s Confidence and Supply Agreement with Labour is to ensure everyone has access to timely and high-quality mental health services," Green Party mental health spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick said.

"Today's announcement is as a stepping stone towards that goal.

"For years, we've seen community mental health services popping up to help people who are falling through gaps in the system.

"These solutions are woven deeply into local communities, and we’re proud to see them receive a guarantee of funding today to expand their crucial services.

"Among the biggest barriers to seeking mental health support are stigma and lack of services.

"By funding mental health services at your local GP, we’ve sought to solve both of those issues."