100 signatures reached
To: House of Representatives
Put mental health first
Provide funding for the placement of mental health practitioners in GP clinics and Māori and Pasifika health services.
Why is this important?
We ask for mental health to be an integral part of primary health care, and the following steps to be taken:
- Place mental health professionals in GP clinics. This could be making available a room in a GP clinic one day a week specifically for people presenting with mental health concerns. For smaller practices the resource could be shared.
- Ring fence mental health funding and increase funding for primary health care. This funding should include increasing the wider mental health workforce including community and peer support workers and health coaches.
- Provide funding to upskill GPs and nurses and midwifes in mental health.
- Expand funding criteria to include people with mild to moderate mental health presentations.
- Provide funding that allows GPs to provide free extended consultations which would include mental health presentations.
Although everyone would hope to live in good mental health, the reality for one in five New Zealanders is very different – and for them and their families, the expectation that they should be able to get help when they need it is vital.[1,2]
As awareness of mental health grows there is increased demand for health services. This is putting increasing pressure on our underfunded health system. Those most in need are experiencing long waiting times for support and the country is experiencing alarmingly high levels of suicide.
General practitioners are often the first point of contact for people with mental disorders, and they need specialist support to be able to recognise, manage and, where appropriate, be recommended to secondary mental health services.
The more that mental health issues can be identified and addressed before the serious step of hospitalisation, the healthier our society will be and also precious secondary health care resources will be spared.
Research tells us that the earlier we treat mental illnesses the faster a person will recover. If we treat people with mental distress earlier we would decrease the likelihood of long term conditions because mental wellness affects physical, emotional, family and spiritual wellbeing.
The integration of mental health into primary health care is being done in various countries around the world. New Zealand is a world leader in the statistics for mental health issues, and should be leading the world in finding solutions. Emphasising mental health in our primary health care and providing adequate funding will be one step forward to answer this.
1 - https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/assets/Uploads/MHF-Quick-facts-and-stats-FINAL.pdf; https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/assets/A-Z/Downloads/FS2-Facts-about-young-New-Zealanders-depression.pdf
2 - https://www.peoplesmentalhealthreport.com/
3 - Integrating mental health into primary care - A global perspective http://www.who.int/mental_health/resources/mentalhealth_PHC_2008.pdf