Labour’s ‘fresh approach’ on mental health

Labour has announced policy on trying to deal with difficult mental health issues.


Fresh approach on mental health

Labour will introduce a pilot scheme of specialist mental health teams across the country in government to ensure swifter and more effective treatment for those who need urgent help, says Labour’s Leader Andrew Little.

“Mental health is in crisis. It needs a fresh approach so we can make a difference quickly because what we’re doing now just isn’t working.

“This is something you can’t put a bandage on and a Labour Government will make it a priority to better equip our health system to cater for those crying out for help.

“Health professionals and those needing treatment tell us it’s hard to find the front door to access mental health services. The present service is over-stretched and fragmented with little co-ordination of the care people need.

“What the new mental health teams will do is offer free, accessible help for those in need and ensure their care is co-ordinated and effective.

“One in six New Zealanders will be diagnosed with a mental health problem in their lifetime. There’s been a 60 per cent increase in Kiwis accessing mental health treatment since National came to power but spending on this sector has only increased by 28 per cent.

“A quarter of all suicides are people who have been in contact with mental health services in the past month.

“Under the two year pilot specialist mental health teams will operate from eight sites across the country and work with doctors, NGOs and District Health Boards. One of the sites will be in Christchurch reflecting the city’s particular needs.

“We expect the teams will be able to help nearly 40,000 people each year at a cost of $43 million over the pilot.

“This is a small investment that we’re confident will make a big difference to those who struggle today to access the services they need. It will be funded through Labour’s budgeted commitment to reversing National’s $1.7 billion of health cuts and is in addition to Labour’s review of the mental health system.

“We believe early intervention and continuing care will help people avoid significant mental health distress and better assist them to live their lives to their fullest. It’s the right thing to do,” says Andrew Little.


This is a timely policy announcement by Labour given Health Minister Jonathan Coleman’s reaction to a mental health report.

The Spinoff: Jonathan Coleman’s attack on ‘anti-government’ ActionStation is a smokescreen. And it’s nonsense

The minister of health has dismissed a report on mental health claiming the authors are ‘left-wing anti-government protesters’. ActionStation’s Marianne Elliott responds.

You know the saying: ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’?

Well, the message is that New Zealanders are deeply concerned about the state of our mental health system, and heartbroken about the family and friends we lose to suicide every year. We’re just the messengers.

The “we” in that sentence is the ActionStation community of everyday New Zealanders, hundreds of whom shared their stories with the People’s Mental Health Review, and 12,800 more who added their names to an open letter asking the government to consider the findings of that review.

So when the minister of health, Dr Jonathan Coleman, dismissed the recommendations of the People’s Mental Health Report on Tuesday because “the people behind the report” were “left-wing anti-government protesters”, that is who he was dismissing.

Attacking the messenger is a classic diversionary tactic when you don’t want to face up to the message itself.

That’s how it looks – not good for Coleman.

Coleman needs to ditch the reactionary petulance and be seen be genuinely dealing with obvious mental health care shortcomings and difficulties. Otherwise voters may choose to go with Labour’s approach.

I’ve always been aware that ActionStation has some close connections with the Greens, and their regular petitions can seem a bit pointless and easy to ignore, but their mental health report was much more substantial and pertinent to current difficulties many people face.

And this from Parliament doesn’t help the metal health debate either: Clark v Coleman on mental health funding

Q & A – war crime?

This morning on Q & A: Human Rights lawyer Marianne Elliott worked for the UN in Afghanistan she joins us live. Did they commit a war crime?

Elliot is director of Action Station.


Statement from NZDF admitting there was a suspected civilian casualty after 2010 SAS raid in Afghanistan

Elliott: an ISAF assessment is not the same as an independent investigation. ISAF is a military assessment of a military operation.

She believes a new independent inquiry can be effective – the attacks took place in 2010.

Is the book politically motivated? Elliott says there has been a politically motivated cover up.

Corin Dann says that the politicians may not have been properly informed. Elliott says again the cover up is politically motivated.

It is very important any inquiry has credibility with the Afghan people affected.

“What the people wants is the truth”. Action Station have surveyed their community.

Was it a possible war crime? Is that an appropriate claim?

Elliott: Yes.

No intention to kill civilians – but that doesn’t  rule out carelessness or error of judgement – errors of judgement will frequently happen in wars.

She feels strongly that “our troops deserve an inquiry”.

 

Petition against going to Iraq

Andrea Vance is promoting a petition against sending troops to Iraq – Petition against sending NZ troops to Iraq gets support.

More than 9000 people have signed up to a “not in my name” campaign in response to the Government’s decision to send troops to Iraq.

Action Station director Marianne Elliott – a former human rights advisor at the UN Mission to Afghanistan – said the online petition had attracted support in its first 24 hours.

She said the Government has not made a case for sending 143 personnel to train Iraqi forces to battle Islamic State.

“Other options must be considered…the Government must consult Parliament and listen to the voices of New Zealand,” she said.

John Key has been speaking about this and listening (hopefuly) for the last six months.

That’s a sizable number but not huge. Action Station has had close links with Greens so the peition is likely to be well supported from that demographic.

She said international military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan have previously failed “at very high cost.”

“If we have learned anything from recent military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan it must surely be, firstly, that we cannot ignore the broader political realities of the region in which we are acting. And, secondly, our military intervention have so far failed to eliminate the threat of terrorism.”

But another side of the story is included:

Elliott was speaking at panel discussion event at Parliament tonight. Also on the panel was British High Commissioner Jonathan Sinclair. Sinclair disputed her claim on Twitter, writing: “coalition air strikes stopped ISIL from threatening Baghdad in 2014.”

And another, this one representing Iraq.

Iraqi ambassador Mouayed Saleh, based in Canberra, addressed the Diplosphere panel, gathered in Parliament’s Grand Hall. He welcomed New Zealand’s contribution to the international coalition of 62 countries.

“We are obviously very happy to see New Zealand,” he said. The Government did not need ground forces, but wanted training, intelligence and technology.

Which makes this quite different from the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

There would be opposition to involvement in war (and probably a petition) no matter what the circumstances.

But this canpaign is likely to be too little, too late.

Petition site: NZ Troops Going To War? #NotInMyName

In a recent Colmar Brunton survey, almost half of New Zealanders polled did not support sending Kiwi troops in a non-combat training role to Iraq, and yet today the Prime Minister announced that 100 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) staff would be sent to help Australia train Iraqi soldiers to combat Islamic State fighters.

Many New Zealanders do not believe the case has been made for military intervention. The risks, including the likelihood of ‘scope creep’, and benefits of sending troops have not been debated in Parliament and alternative forms of intervention have not been properly discussed – alternatives like providing humanitarian assistance, using sanctions to cut off the flow of funds to the Islamic State or providing support to Kurdish groups already successfully fighting them.

The bottom line right now is that the New Zealand Government does not have a mandate to send our troops in support of US military action. Public opinion in New Zealand is divided, our parliament has not been consulted, and the Iraqi parliament has not ratified a ‘status of forces’ agreement, which would offer official protection to our forces.

The situation in Iraq is complex and tragic, but the Government must consult Parliament, and listen to the voices of New Zealanders.

Tell John Key that he may be deciding to send troops to Iraq on your behalf, but he is not acting in your name. #NOTINMYNAME

Click here to read our National Director’s take on events.

“Dear Prime Minister John Key,

The decision to send New Zealand troops into Iraq may have been made on behalf of NZ, but it was made without a debate or vote in Parliament, without adequate discussion of the alternatives and without a clear public mandate.

If you choose to send New Zealand troops to Iraq now, in whatever capacity, you send them without my support and not in my name. The situation in Iraq is complex and tragic, but the bottom line right now is that you must consult Parliament, and listen to the voices of New Zealanders.

NB: Some people have reported trouble using our site. We are working on identifying and resolving the problem, but in the meantime, it seems to be only affecting people who have signed a petition with us before. If you find you can’t sign the petition and it just says “Saving” for a long time, simply sign out of your account (at the bottom of the page) and then you’ll be able to add your name. Hopefully we’ll have a permanent fix to this problem soon!

Will you sign?