Workforce needs highlighted by PSA Mental Health & Addiction Committee

Members of the PSA Mental Health & Addiction Committee from around New Zealand have been meeting in Wellington today to review PSA members’ feedback about recommendations for change in the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry report delivered to Government in November.

“After holding a round of regional forums around the country we have strong feedback from PSA members that the report was too light on the fundamental need to support a robust mental health and addiction workforce given we are experiencing a significant workforce crisis,” says PSA Mental Health Committee convenor Andy Colwell.

“The PSA Mental Health Committee have been meeting today with the Ministry of Health’s Deputy Director General Mental Health and Addiction Robyn Shearer to ensure that this concern about addressing workforce issues and needs is heard loud and clear.
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Robyn Shearer, Deputy Director-General Mental Health and Addiction at the Ministry of Health, talks with the PSA Mental Health Committee in Wellington today.

 “While our regional forums in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch, as well as an online survey, were generally positive that the areas identified for change cover the right bases, our members also warned that the government’s response to the Inquiry report will fall short of the mark if it doesn’t address workforce issues and needs.

“In particular chronic workforce shortages will only get worse without more resourcing and a substantial, urgent investment in people and improved facilities.

“Of equal concern is the dangerous levels of risk that mental health and addiction workers are continuing to be exposed to every day.

 “Since the Inquiry report was received by Health Minister David Clark the incidence of serious health and safety incidents impacting on the mental health workforce has been making headlines on an almost weekly basis and can’t be allowed to continue.

 “We want to see specific attention to address those risks, along with improved training and specialisation.

 “Now is the time for the Government to be bold in delivering long-overdue changes to truly transform the mental health system. It has been left to languish, to the detriment of the wellbeing of all New Zealanders, for far too long”.

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The PSA Mental Health Committee members and PSA staff: Fiona Ormsby (PSA organiser), Amanda Martin, Kevin McGorry (PSA organiser), Billy West, Tarn Evans, Andy Colwell, Joseph Waru, Vicki Lewis, Nancy Dally, Allan Franks, Megan Barry, and Bronte Ammundsen (PSA project advisor)