Mental health stocktake shows strong progress

The first report of the Government’s Implementation Unit has found strong progress has been made since the Mental Health and Addictions Package was announced in 2019.

“The report notes most initiatives funded in the Budget 2019 package are on track to deliver what is expected by 2023/24,” Grant Robertson said.

“For example, there are more than 200 GP sites offering Integrated Primary Mental Health and Addiction Services seeing more than 11,000 people per month and providing coverage for an enrolled population of 1.5 million people.

“We know mental wellbeing is not simply about clinical treatment from health practitioners, it is also about housing, addiction services and primary care.

“While the report shows there has been progress it also identifies some areas for improvement. This includes setting up systems to provide regular reporting rather than as requests come through, growing and retaining a suitably qualified workforce and ensuring all agencies are consistent in their links to front-line staff.

“One of the most important lessons from the report is that there is no silver bullet to ensure New Zealanders’ mental wellbeing. A cross-government approach is crucial and we need to work hard to ensure the whole system is working,” Grant Robertson said.

“This report has been very helpful and in order to support the Ministry’s directorate in the continued roll-out of the programme, I have established an external oversight group chaired by Judy McGregor, encompassing clinical, lived experience and governance,” Andrew Little said.  

“The report identifies there is more to do in the mental health infrastructure space. Although the funding has been provided, the Ministry has struggled to achieve as much as we would have liked them to.

“Since receiving the report, the Ministry has written a clear plan for mental health infrastructure. Simple improvements have been made immediately. For example, Ministers have recently agreed that the Ministry is able to provide DHBs with funding for planning, design and consenting of infrastructure projects so that they can be fast-tracked.

“The Ministry of Health has also identified that specialist health infrastructure people are in short supply, so we have asked the Ministry to work with Otakaro to support the delivery of these projects.

“It is good to have confirmation that the overall investment is on track to be delivered, and the areas that require more focus have been highlighted,” Andrew Little said.

“This is the first report back from a number of reviews the Implementation Unit currently has underway,” Grant Robertson said.

“The unit, which is housed in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, reports to me as Deputy Prime Minister. Other programmes being reviewed include Jobs for Nature and parts of the NZ Upgrade Programme.”

The review and factsheet are available here