National wants to boost mental health funding with extra support to Mike King’s organisation

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Apr 26, 2023 |

National Party leader Christopher Luxon has promised to boost community providers and NGOs to deliver faster access to mental health services for vulnerable New Zealanders.

This comes as mental health professionals express concern about the growing financial pressures Kiwi families face, which may exacerbate the cost-of-living crisis and lead to worsening mental health outcomes.

Despite the New Zealand government’s announcement of $1.9 billion in funding for mental health services in 2019, the number of people reporting they are unable to get professional help has increased by 80% compared to five years ago.

National has criticised the government for its failure to deliver the necessary improvements in mental health services and outcomes.

To address this issue, National has proposed the Mental Health Innovation Fund, which will distribute up to $20 million in matching funds to community mental health organisations that are achieving positive results for Kiwis in need.

The fund will support innovative community providers such as Mike King’s Gumboot Friday to scale up their successful operations and reach more vulnerable Kiwis.

Luxon said National’s investment of $20 million could provide the equivalent of more than 130,000 additional free counselling sessions from the NGO sector over four years, based on the cost per session that Gumboot Friday achieves.

Funding will also be available for activities beyond one-on-one counselling, such as the suicide prevention programmes run by MATES in Construction or any other mental health programme, as long as they demonstrate positive outcomes.

Luxon emphasised that while Kiwis have made good progress in breaking down the stigma around asking for help with mental health, the current mental health system remains too difficult to access.

National aims to amplify the impact of frontline organisations that are already delivering real change for vulnerable Kiwis, making it easier for people to access the support they need.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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