7 Oct 2018

Mental health services strained beyond capacity - Greens

3:37 pm on 7 October 2018

The Green Party is calling for better mental health services at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick in Parliament.

Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick in Parliament. Photo: RNZ / Chris Bramwell

Its MP, Chloe Swarbrick, said New Zealand needs to end the stigma that still surrounds mental illness.

She said the Greens will push for more services including free counselling for under 25s, more funding for 24/7 helplines, child and adolescent services and youth beds.

She has spent time looking at services in tertiary education and found many young people are faced with lengthy delays in seeing mental health specialists.

"At all eight campuses that I went to bar one there were reports of anywhere between two to six, sometimes eight week wait times for mental health services."

Ms Swarbrick said students at seven of the universities said they could wait up to eight weeks to get an appointment with a mental health professional.

She said even once people were seen, they could be further delays.

"I heard first hand experiences where they had to apply for these counselling services, and then either if they didn't work for them, or if, for example, the practitioner who they were supposed to be seeing was ill, they were bumped down the list.

"A number of those people who reported those anecdotes, they said that they just ended up turning to their friends or their community."

Ms Swarbrick said the mental health services in this country are strained beyond capacity.

Where to get help relating to mental health:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

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