Thursday 29 August 2019
The release of suicide statistics showing the number of people committing suicide has reached its highest-ever level is an unwelcome reminder that the Government is not doing enough to address New Zealander’s mental health needs.
APEX, the union representing psychologists working in District Health Boards, is calling for the Government to immediately prioritise investment in the psychologists workforce to expand the number of frontline staff to respond to the nationwide mental health crisis.
Unprecedented nationwide strike action by DHB psychologists is set to begin on Tuesday 3 September and continue for a month.
“It is tragic but not surprising that New Zealanders are committing suicide in greater numbers when DHBs are increasingly restricting entry to mental health services or reducing the amount of treatment patients can access,” said Dr Deborah Powell, APEX National Secretary.
“We know from our members there are patients who recently attempted suicide but were discharged from mental health services in the Auckland region because waiting lists for treatment is close to a year.”
“There is nothing inevitable about high suicide rates. Part of the problem is the hundreds of unfilled psychologist vacancies across DHBs because of the inability to recruit or retain these specialist mental health professionals on current pay and conditions.”
“If the Government was serious about dealing with suicide, they will immediately approve DHBs to return to the stalled psychologists collective bargaining with a plan to recruit and retain psychologists in mental health services,” concluded Dr Powell.
Dr Deborah Powell is available for comment on 021 614 040.
Psychologists in District Health Boards
Psychologists, including clinical psychologists and health psychologists, are employed in District Health Boards across a range of mental health services including forensic services, community mental health, addiction and inpatient services. Psychologists also work in physical health services including child health, cancer, cardiac, spinal, diabetes and older persons’ health.