Last month I spoke to Dave Mac (elected Waikato DHB member) about mental health services in the Waikato. You can listen to the podcast of that Kelli from the Tron episode here. At the time Dave kindly gave me a list of what he believes should be included in a policy on mental health and suicide. (In summary, with my comments in brackets)
- An independent review of mental health services. (So far Minister Coleman (Health) has refused to do this).
- Address CAUSES of compromised mental health/suicide – consider poverty, housing, unemployment, (chronic stress).
- Trained staff in every school. (Labour has pledged to see this happen).
- Restore mental health component to GP training. (Opportunity to implement in our new medical school).
- Provide respite care, for those in transition from in-patient to community treatment.
- Common sense policy to treatment that puts safety first. (Our DHB voted against Dave’s recommendation to exclude mental health patients from the rule about not smoking on hospital grounds – which puts lives at risk!)
- Requirement to listen to whanau views for treatment plans (they know best).
- Consider alternatives to a drugs first policy for treatment (short term measure only).
- Ensure national budget set for mental health costs is suitable – and above politics.
- National and local (non-partisan) leadership in sector.
These are the things you need to look for any any political party policy but ultimately we need an independent enquiry into what the f**k is happening. Make our devastating, increasing suicide toll an election issue – THE election issue this year. Please ask candidates at any opportunity what THEY (not just their party) are doing about this.