Today’s Budget announcements will provide New Zealanders with better access to mental health services, says Dr Samantha Murton, President of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.
Dr Murton is heartened to hear there will be a strong focus on mental health and addiction services through a well-resourced primary care system, and that the stepped care model that the College advocated for has been funded.
“We are very pleased to see the Government has funded the stepped-care model in this budget and is taking mental health seriously. This model will allow GPs to physically walk the patient to a trained mental health worker and ensure continuity of care and support for their patients when they need it most.
“Accessibility to mental health services has always been a barrier, so enhancing primary care services, such as general practices and Kaupapa Maori and Pasifika providers, is a welcome positive step.
“We look forward to finding out more about how the $455m allocated will be distributed. GPs are often the first port of call for people suffering from mental health issues, so having allied health services within general practices will help patients access the care they need, when they need it.
“There’s growing awareness and concern about the seriousness of New Zealand’s mental health needs. We are also pleased to see a focus and funding to help with suicide prevention.
The College acknowledges and thanks all those who work in general practices, and believes this budget will go some way towards improving health outcomes for patients living with mental illness.