Mental health expert wants Lifeline to receive Govt funding

Newstalk ZB ,
Publish Date
Sunday, 14 April 2019, 10:12AM

The increasing demand on our mental health services has again been brought to the fore.

This week, it was reported a distraught women gave up on Lifeline after her phone call was put on hold for half an hour.

She also texted the service but was told no councillor was available. It took over seven hours for her to get a text back from Lifeline.

In response, Lifeline have said that long waits are a reality for the service.  Executive director Glenda Schnell has said that the number of calls and texts a day has doubled since the Mosque attacks in Christchurch.

Professor of Psychology and Public Health Max Abbott, the founding director of the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand and current Dean of the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences at AUT, told Francesca Rudkin that this case is disturbing.

He says that Lifeline has been around for a long time and is an incredibly important service.

"It's not just it's telephone counselling that it provides, but it also has a specialist suicide prevention coordination role, it provides training and face-to-face counselling." 

Abott says that incidents such as the Christchurch terror attack "ripples out" through society and people who were not directly affected can still suffer. 

"We found the same thing years ago with the Erebus disaster that touched every New Zealander." 

Abbott says that Lifeline is usually the first service that people think about when they need help, but the Government has taken a different tack and funded a national tele-health provider.

The intention was to bring together a number of services under one banner, which Abbott says that they appear to be running a very good service.

"However, it's important that we don't put all our eggs in one basket."

He believes the Ministry of Health's decision has overlooked some of the important roles non-Governmental organisations fulfill, such as the relationship services training that Lifeline used to provide. 

Abbot wants Lifeline to receive some Government funding to go alongside the volunteer and corporate input. 

"A relatively small investment from Government can help an organisation provide a whole raft of services with funding coming from elsewhere."

Where to get help:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

Or if you need to talk to someone else:

Lifeline – 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Youthline – 0800 376 633 or free text 234
Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (for under 18s)
What's Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds 1pm–10pm weekdays and 3pm–10pm weekends)
Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757 or free text 4202
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
OUTLine NZ – 0800 688 5463
Healthline – 0800 611 116

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