Health minister’s response to Kaikoura call for help "inadequate and irresponsible" - PSA

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The government’s cavalier attitude towards mental health must stop, the PSA says - after National’s much-vaunted Kaikoura relief package fell far short of what the quake-hit region needs.

It’s been revealed Canterbury District Health board asked for $12.8 million to support people who were struggling with mental health problems after the November 14 quake.

Instead, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman gave just $3.7 million, which he said showed the government was "committed to ensuring the people of Kaikoura and Marlborough can access the health services they need".

Canterbury DHB asked for more than 30 additional clinical staff, including community support workers - and Minister Coleman gave them just nine.

"We are deeply disappointed but not surprised at Minister Coleman’s totally inadequate response," PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says.

"Once again, he is refusing to listen to the concerns of mental health professionals.

"Canterbury DHB is hugely experienced in psycho-social recovery work after earthquakes, and it’s best-placed to know what the people of Kaikoura and the wider region need.

"Minister Coleman should have given them what they asked for, and not a penny less."

Mr Barclay says the November quake will have a long-term impact for PSA members across the region, including people in Canterbury who are still traumatised by the 2010 and 2011 quakes.

"Our members in Kaikoura go to work every day to help their community recover from the devastation - while also dealing with the disruption in their own lives.

"Psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald says people will die as a result of this decision.

"This is a community under extreme stress, and the DHB has made an urgent call for more resources to deal with mental health, addiction and violence problems.

"Minister Coleman’s failure to properly resource the recovery is irresponsible.

"We call on him to give Canterbury DHB what they ask for - and repeat our urgent demand for proper funding for mental health across New Zealand."