Money set aside for mental health needed now, says Opposition

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NZN

The government should use a $100 million fund to get cracking helping those with mental health issues, rather than parking the cash until an inquiry is finished, the opposition says

Shaun Robinson says the extent of the government inquiry is "very encouraging".
Source: Breakfast

National Party Mental Health Spokesperson Matt Doocey said the new government last week admitted it had inherited $100m - set aside by National when in power - to fund 17 health initiatives.

They included a pilot program that would have support workers joining police and ambulance in responding to 111 calls requiring a mental health intervention, and another aiming to improve the wellbeing of Northland children.

These were already backed by the government's own chief science advisors and aimed to provide mental health treatment as well as wraparound and prevention services, Mr Doocey said.

Despite this, the new government was yet to commit to the measures.

"These initiatives would have been making a real difference to peoples' lives and there is no good reason why they aren't already," he said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern instead launched a mental health inquiry as a key election promise and top priority of her Labour-led government's 100-day.

Jacinda Ardern announces government inquiry in mental health and addiction services
Source: 1 NEWS

It would attempt to identify unmet needs in mental health and addiction services - along with which groups were most affected - before making recommendations about improvements and which bodies should carry them out.

Chaired by health law Professor Ron Paterson, it would be expected to report back to the government by October 31.

Mr Doocey panned the inquiry as a waste of time and money, saying action was needed immediately.

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