Agreeing with DF re the Mental Health of Young People

To the government: The right person/organisation is out there: Fund him and get out of the way!

Over the last four years I have had the blessing of getting to know Mike King a little and have him speak in our schools. I was also given the job of presenting for the hour leading up to Mike at a major conference. I was so glad I was before him as to speak afterwards would be like lighting a match on the Sydney Harbour Bridge after the NY fireworks.

Mike is brilliant, compassionate, has a huge heart & energy, leads people effectively, makes people laugh and connects as if they are the only person in the room.

In the government’s desire to be the solve-alls, alongside their massive and growing bureaucracies, and control everybody and everything mentality – kids are not getting anywhere near the level of help Mike and his team can offer.

Mike wrote in the NZH today and here are a few points (and please help if you can and/or let the Ministry/Minister of Health and the PM know they need to change).

– Over the past six months, we have seen a steady flow of alarming media stories highlighting the chronic shortfalls in mental health services, including but not limited to underfunded services, excruciating wait times of up to 12 months and burn-out by mental health professionals.

– I am disappointed and embarrassed by the state of mental health support today.

– Despite what the Ministry of Health is telling us, capacity is not the issue – there are plenty of counsellors available. The issue is the Ministry of Health’s reluctance to pay for counsellors.

– In March, Health Minister Andrew Little was reported saying that he knows there is frustration in the sector, but they are moving as fast as they can with the capacity that they’ve got.

– Why is the Ministry of Health is ignoring the “click and collect” resource available through Gumboot Friday-funded free counselling service? This is a service currently funded by public donations that has more than 3800 registered counsellors across the country and has already allocated more than 15,500 hours of free counselling to thousands of young Kiwis under 25.

– The Ministry of Health which, despite lauding the “team of five million” during Covid-19, refuses to fund a service created by the people for our most vulnerable people.

– Last week the Government announced an expansion of Mana Ake, or Stronger for Tomorrow, investing $28 million in an early intervention in-school mental health and well-being programme that addresses mild to moderate mental health needs of Year 1 to 8 children before they become more serious. The programme will be expanded by the beginning of 2022 at a cost of a further $10 million.

– By comparison, if Gumboot Friday was given $28 million that would equate to 300,000 free counselling sessions nationwide, not just in 5 centres.

– Gumboot Friday connects anyone under 25 with a private counsellor in their area with one click of a button – and picks up the bill. The efficient and effective service has been running for the last two years and has achieved some outstanding results.

• Average cost: $124 per session

• Average sessions per client: four

• Average response time: 48 hours

• Average wait time: six days

• In year one 40 per cent of clients were male – the most at-risk group

• And nearly 40 per cent of clients were aged 11 and under.

– As someone who is in the mental health trenches, I am simply staggered that a resource that New Zealanders deem worthy of funding is being ignored by the Ministry of Health. It’s not only reprehensible behaviour from the officials but continues the status quo where New Zealanders facing mental health challenges are left questioning if they’re important enough to get help.

  • It seems to me that the well-worn catch cry of our Prime Minister to “go hard, go early” – at least in the eyes of the Ministry of Health, applies to everything except the lives of young New Zealanders.

• This year’s Gumboot Friday fundraiser is on May 28. For more information on how you can help go to www.gumbootfriday.com.

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