Thursday, May 25, 2023

Kate Hawkesby: Four years on from the Wellbeing Budget, how are our wellbeing stats still so woeful?

As if a cost of living crisis and a crime crisis were not enough, we also have a mental health crisis in this country, and it’s heart-breaking.

It was reported the other day that, on average, 54 tradies take their own life each year, as well as 23 farm workers. They're predominantly men. So what services are available here?

Well as we know, time and time again, because it’s constantly reported on, very few.

The mental health sector is stretched, it’s in many cases dysfunctional, there are a lack of pyschs, a lack of outlets for people, a lack of supports to tap into. There are long waiting lists, in many cases, too long. And for farm workers in particular, in many rural areas, no help at all.

Minister for Rural Communities, Kieran McAnulty was reported recently saying that “rural communities have poorer mental health outcomes and disproportionately higher rates of suicide,” he cited reduced access to mental health services as a factor, social isolation and easier access to firearms and vehicles.

But what’s really concerning is that it’s his government, who made such a big song and dance about throwing more money at it, yet has still not moved the metrics on it.

Where’s the money gone?

 It’s reported that “In 2019, the Government committed $455 million to primary mental health and addiction services..” But, and here’s the rub, “there is no specific industry focus for the funding.”

Why not?

Why not target it? Why not be specific about where the spending needs to go? It’s not like we don’t know where it’s needed.

So what have we got to show for it? Where’s the accountability for any of it? There is none.

No one appears to know where the money’s gone, we’ve certainly not seen the rapid cropping up of better rural mental health services, it certainly hasn’t improved access.

Even mental health advocate Mike King got so disillusioned with the lack of funding ending up anywhere, he described the mental health scene as “horrifying and scary..” and that was a year ago, God only knows how much worse it is now.

He said “the system’s broken”, and that’s what we’re still hearing, and we hear it time and time again. The system is broken.

The fixes we thought were coming, didn’t come. The money we thought would help alleviate some of the pressure in the sector, never arrived. The places the money needed to go to didn’t get it.

The people tasked with carrying the burden of all this frontline under resourced mental health care on their shoulders, got so overwhelmed many of them left and quit the sector entirely.

Frustratingly, the point King made back then was that the money was out there, there was enough of it floating around, it just was not reaching the right places, and no one knew where it had gone.

He said you could OIA the Ministry of Health and they wouldn’t even know where it was. His fear was it was getting flushed down the toilet. So how is this not only still an issue, but arguably worse, not better?

How is it we have “Nearly one in four young adults suffering from high levels of anxiety, fatigue and depression”, (according to the Salvation Army’s 2023 State of the Nation report).

I know the mental health sector is not a quick fix, but four years on from the Wellbeing Budget, how is it our wellbeing stats are still so woeful?

Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.


robert Arthur said...

Has the mental health money "gone" or is it still unspent. Better to not spend tan to spend non productively (not a principle applied to amori spending)

Anonymous said...

All by design. Before you can build back better as per the NWO One World Government UN 2030 agenda, you have to destroy existing structures/systems.