Ross: Changes needed in mental health care

New Zealand is experiencing a mental health crisis and some of the numbers around this issue are staggering.

Almost 670 Kiwis took their own lives between July 2017 and June 2018.

That’s the highest number since records began and it was the fourth year in a row the number has risen.

The number of girls and women who died from suicide from 2017-2018 increased by 44 to 193.

More than 470 boys and men in New Zealand died from suicide during that period, which were 18 more than the previous year.

Each one of these deaths represents family torn apart and loved ones left to ask why they didn’t see the signs that something was wrong or whether they could have done something to help.

As I said recently in Parliament, the group with the highest suicide rates is men aged 25-44.

There’s a lot of attention given to our high youth suicide rate, but men need support as well.

Men aged 25-44 commit suicide four times more frequently than women in the same age group.

The issues of mental health and addiction were a major focus for the Labour Party during the last election campaign, but 18 months into the Government’s term in office we are yet to see any concrete action taken on these issues.

What they have done is launch an inquiry into it.

The experts involved have completed their work and we’re all now waiting to hear what will happen next.

I urge the Government to identify gaps in New Zealand’s mental health care and I agree with the Mental Health Foundation’s recent submission to the Budget policy statement on this subject.

It said, in part, “We will not create better mental health within New Zealand by continuing with an imbalanced focus of resources on acute mental health services.

“Instead, New Zealand must increase its efforts in promoting wellbeing and preventing mental health problems from occurring.”

This is a complicated issue and it cannot be solved overnight, but it is something I intend to focus on as Botany’s MP.

Our community is not immune from the trauma caused by self-harm.

  • Jami-Lee Ross MP for Botany