18 Aug 2022

Government confirms mental health workforce expansion

10:33 am on 18 August 2022

Mental health internships will rise to 40 a year by 2024, with increased remuneration, the government says.

Labour MP Andrew Little

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Free access to cultural competency and post-graduate youth or kaupapa Māori therapy training - such as in youth addiction, cognitive behavioural therapy and intervention - is also being expanded.

Health Minister Andrew Little today confirmed mental health workforce training was on track for the internships expansion with placements increasing from 12 in 2017, to 28 this year, aiming to plateau at 40 by 2024 and into the future.

Funding for interns had also already increased by nearly 40 percent to nearly $60,000 a year each, he said.

"This is a significant contribution and one we know will encourage more people to consider studying towards a career in clinical psychology," he said.

He said the psychology intern programme was being improved with a trial of hubs that gave interns a chance to work with multiple services and supervisors.

Meanwhile, free training initiatives would include:

  • Post-graduate training in talking therapies such as brief intervention, youth addiction, and cognitive behavioural therapy for children and young people
  • A kaupapa Māori approach to therapy and intervention
  • Online training modules for cultural competency in working with Asian, migrant and refugee populations
  • Online training for community pharmacists in mental health and addiction

"Primary mental health and addiction services are an area experiencing increasing demand," Little said.

He said the Access and Choice programme, which has been running for about three years and aims to improve access to mental health and addiction services, was celebrating growing to over 1000 contracted roles and was helping tens of thousands of New Zealanders every month.

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