The Wellbeing Budget

Taking mental health seriously

Supporting mental wellbeing for all New Zealanders, with a special focus on under 24-year-olds


A new frontline service for mental health with a $455m programme providing access for 325,000 people by 2023/24

Suicide prevention services get a $40m boost

Reaching 5,600 extra secondary students with more nurses in schools

Tackling homelessness, with 1,044 new places – Housing First will now reach 2,700 people

Charting a new course for mental health and addiction

If there was one thing that the report of the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction (He Ara Oranga) revealed, it was that we need a whole new approach to mental health and addiction in New Zealand.

As it stands we only have mental health and addiction services for those with the highest needs, and demand is increasing for these services. People with emerging issues, or mild to moderate mental health or addiction needs, have largely been left on their own, or have had to wait too long to get help.

Everyone knows that isn't right and isn't working. Most New Zealanders will have a friend or family member who has struggled with addiction or with their mental wellbeing. In fact, as He Ara Oranga confirmed, current data suggests one in five New Zealanders experience mental health or addiction challenges at any given time.

All this comes at huge social cost. To individuals and families, and to the economy. It's estimated that in 2014 the economic cost of serious mental illness alone was $12 billion, or five per cent of GDP.

We need to transform our approach so that every New Zealander who needs it has access to a range of free services that support and maintain their mental wellbeing. That starts with Budget 2019, and will require ongoing investment.

Supporting and maintaining people's mental wellbeing must become part of the normal delivery of our health services. When New Zealanders are in distress they need to know there is appropriate support available, and it has to be easily accessible. We need to make it as easy as possible for people to get the help they need.

That's why this Wellbeing Budget includes funding for a new model of frontline mental health services that will be accessible at general practices, Kaupapa Māori providers, Pacific providers, community organisations, through online and telehealth platforms and even in universities and youth centres.

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