Govt embarks on five-year plan to improve mental health services

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"We may not be able to control or prevent those things that trigger mental health problems but we can work to improve wellbeing and resilience throughout our communities", he says. "So investing in mental health supports for young people, including ensuring free access to medications for anyone aged 24 and under, will help students stay healthy while they learn". The County's Behavioral Health Division (BHD) will launch a month long campaign created to foster conversations about mental health care, reducing stigma and breaking down barriers for individuals to seek support.

Susan Parmelee is a mental health social worker and one of the founders of the Wellness & Prevention Center, San Clemente.

There's recognition from the Health Minister that mental health is a huge issue, funding will be allocated from already stretched District Health Boards.

"It is also important to understand early symptoms of mental illness and know when certain behaviors are potentially signs that one needs additional support with mental healthcare", said Berlina Wallace-Berube, director of the Division of Mental Health, Alcoholism and Drug Dependency Services.

Green Party health spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said the Government's social investment approach would only target those who fit a narrow fixed definition of needing help.

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He said there had been significant investment in mental health services since 2008/9, with funding increasing by 18 percent from $1.1 billion to $1.4bn previous year.

"There has been a 60% increase in mental health and addictions users since 2007 but funding has only increased by 28%", he says. The number of full-time equivalent psychiatrists employed across DHBs had increased by well over 100 over the past eight years.

People experience symptoms of mental illnesses differently-and some engage in potentially unsafe or risky behaviors to avoid or cover up symptoms of a potential mental health problem. "The subject is hugely concerning for all of us", Dr Coleman said.

"There are a few bandaids in Dr Coleman's first aid kit, but nothing to address the growing demand and the massive unmet need in the system".

She added that the PSA was sceptical about the "highly targeted nature of other social investment programmes put in place by this government".

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