“For World Mental Health Day ACT is calling for an approach to mental health care that focuses on outcomes for Kiwis in need and ends the postcode lottery for mental health care,” says ACT Deputy Leader and Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“Each year the Government spends about $2 billion on mental health and addiction services, but outcomes have been getting worse for Kiwis in need.

“The $1.9 billion announced in 2019 could have provided 500,000 Kiwis with six counselling sessions each year for the next five years. Instead mental health services decreased. The number of bed nights available for substance abuse and medical withdrawal management decreased by 26 per cent in five years. The number of bed nights for substance use residential treatment has decreased by 31 per cent.

“This equates to around 4,000 fewer nights in care available to people in need.

“Sadly, mental health has become another example of Labour spending huge amounts of taxpayers’ money, but not focusing on results. The job of being in Government isn’t just to announce funding and then knock off for the day. ACT stands for real change and knows that delivering outcomes is what really matters to Kiwis.

“The lingering effects of the COVID response and the cost of living crisis means that pressure on the system will continue building, and nothing over the past six years has shown Labour is capable of addressing this.

"ACT will give the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission the power to transform mental health and addiction services by taking the $2 billion per annum currently spent through the Ministry of Health and DHBs, and channeling it to providers and patients through an upgraded Commission renamed Mental Health and Addiction New Zealand (MHANZ).

“MHANZ will not be a provider of services, but a world-class commissioning agency that assesses individual needs and contracts the best providers for a person’s therapy and care. It would put people at the heart of the system.

“A teenager in Manukau, or an elderly person in Rangiora, wouldn’t just have to accept the postcode lottery for whatever services Te Whatu Ora offers in their area. They could rely on MHANZ to seek out the best support for their needs and resource them to help.

"Around four-in-five New Zealanders will face mental health challenges throughout their lives. We need a practical approach to ensure these people are not victims of a disjointed and overly bureaucratic system.

"ACT is determined to create a better future for New Zealanders. Mental Health and Addictions are not to be stigmatised or swept under the rug, they are issues to be put front and centre with their own funding agency on an equal standing with general healthcare.”

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