16 Aug 2017

Labour pledges mental health funds boost in Canterbury

2:15 pm on 16 August 2017

Mental health services in Canterbury and Kaikōura schools are set to get a funding boost if Labour is elected.

Jacinda Ardern on a visit to her hometown of Morrinsville. 10 August 2017.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has pledged dedicated mental health support for children in Canterbury and Kaikōura. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

In Christchurch this morning Labour's leader, Jacinda Ardern, announced it would fund an extra 80 mental health professionals over three years to work in all public primary and intermediate schools.

Ms Ardern said the funding would mean children in Canterbury and Kaikōura would get dedicated mental health support to help them overcome the earthquake trauma.

She said it would mean there will be a full-time mental health professional for every 500 school children in Canterbury.

Canterbury children still bear the mental scars of the quakes and since 2011 there had been a 73 percent increase in children and young people using mental health clinics, Ms Ardern said.

"Our concern has been that, yes, there has been an increase in support for screening and assessment of people who have need, but there hasn't been enough investment in the frontline resources to then respond to that. So this is a direct investment in professionals that can help."

She said Labour would invest an extra $10 million in a range of mental health professionals including psychologists and psychotherapists as well as social workers, registered nurses and community mental health workers.

One principal, Trudy Heath of Addington School, said her children desperately need more help.

"We have children verbalising suicidal thoughts, and that's scary. The anxiety is huge. Wind, rainstorms, which we've had a lot ... thunder... it sends kids up the wall. The coping skills, the resilience ... it's just not there."

Ms Heath said although the aftershocks have stopped, people living in quake-damaged homes were still stressed.

Where to get help:

Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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