Health Minister Andrew Little has defended the Government’s handling of the mental health crisis, saying their investments to address the crisis will take time.
The Government was criticised yesterday over its response to the country’s mental health crisis, with National MP Matt Doocey attempting to lay bare the realities of Labour’s Wellbeing Budget two years on.
From its $1.9 billion dollars reserved for mental health, he revealed only a fraction of that money had been spent.
Little shot down the claims, saying the $500,000 figure stated by Doocey wasn’t right.
He told Breakfast that DHBs incur the expenditure before seeking reimbursement from the Ministry of Health, only then is it booked against the funding.
“Remember this is a four to five-year programme, we made the commitment to five significant upgrades and rebuilds of mental health facilities - but it takes time.”
Little admitted yesterday he was “frustrated” by the slow pace of progress, he announced another review of the country’s mental health system.
When asked what the Government had to show for their work over the past two years, Little said the funding has helped bring over 500 people into the health sector.
“People in GP clinics, community clinics, youth one-stop-shops and Kaupapa Māori health services; doing frontline, primary mental health care.”
Doocey had revealed the current spending of the mental health funding had only resulted in five beds to show for it, but Little said that’s incorrect.
“There is no single bed as a result of the $1.9 billion dollars because those facilities haven’t been built yet,” he told Breakfast.
National Party leader Judith Collins says she supported the boost in mental health funding but remained critical of the programme’s slow pace.
“There are people I know, and I’m sure everyone else will know, who have children, teenagers and even adults in families who are struggling.
“Unless their family member presents as suicidal, they feel they have nowhere to go”
She told Breakfast that the Government’s recently announced review of its mental health system “looks like another way of just not getting stuff done”.
“If you’re going to make promises, deliver on them.”
She acknowledged there are “some opportunities” for people to seek help for mental health, but the sheer demand on services was continuing to cause issues.
“The fact is, you can’t wait six months for help.”