PSA welcomes Green Party plan to reduce youth suicide

The Green Party’s ‘Vision Zero’ plan to reduce youth suicide offers several practicable steps towards lowering the high number of young people who take their own lives in New Zealand, and the PSA is offering to work with the relevant Government agencies to develop the mental health and addiction workforces sufficiently to implement this kind of plan.

"So many people were devastated over the last week to read the most recent reporting on suicides in New Zealand and note that things are getting worse, despite the efforts of so many professionals to reduce that number," says Erin Polaczuk, PSA national secretary.

"It’s heartening to see that the Green Party have a firm eye on the future, and that they understand the challenges underlying any national effort to reduce the number of suicides in New Zealand."

"Steps like re-establishing the Mental Health Commission to advocate for people with mental illnesses and monitor Governmental spending on mental health services are unglamorous, but play a huge part in ensuring agencies are equipped to deliver on suicide prevention and reduction initiatives."

"The PSA opposed the disestablishment of the Mental Health Commission in 2012 - it has left a noticeable gap in the sector’s landscape and allowed mental health underfunding to continue unhindered under this Government’s following two terms."

"Developing the qualified counselling and mental health and addiction workforce, and improving the skills pipeline for professionalised youth workers would do a lot to help implement the Green Party’s plan.

"As the union for mental health workers, the PSA would do everything in its power to work with agencies to make this possible."

"We also believe that equal pay for community mental health and addiction support workers is crucial to ensure sustainable services in the long-term - at the moment, many are leaving to pursue fairer wages in other care and support roles, and that needs to change if we want community services working well."

"The Greens’ plan to increase funding for youth mental health services is also a welcome commitment, as are the community initiatives to integrate mental wellness into the school curriculum."

"That would go a long way towards expanding the understanding of mental health issues among young people and intervening earlier at the community level before problems become crises."