Wellington, May 23, 2017
The cost of dealing with mental health incidents for our police was a staggering $36.7 million which shows just why we need Labour’s fresh approach on Mental Health.
Police now estimate that they spend 600 hours a day across the country working on mental health incidents.
Police dealt with nearly 30,000 mental health related incidents in 2015-2016, with 10% increase in the number of suicide-related incidents since 2012.
These statistics from the police’s own data base show that these incidents are increasing and reveal the growing stress on our Mental Health sector.
The $36.7 million is only the tip of the iceberg as it only takes into account the cost of police callouts that are mental health-related where no crime occurs.
Our Health system needs Labour’s fresh approach of eight mental health teams’ sites across New Zealand. This pilot will cost $43 million over two years and treat around 40,000 people each year. One of the sites will be in Christchurch reflecting that city’s needs.
The present service is over-stretched and fragmented with little coordination of the care people need. Our new mental health teams will offer free accessible treatment and ease the stress on our mental health professionals.
A quarter of all suicides are people who have been in contact with mental health services in the past month. After nine long years of National there has been 60% increase in New Zealanders accessing mental health care but funding has only increased by less than half.
To reduce the stress on our mental health professionals and now the police we will review of the Mental Health system and reverse National’s $1.7 billion in funding cuts. This is the right thing to do and will help people live their lives to the fullest.
Andrew Little is Leader of the Labour Party of New Zealand and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.