I’m so lucky that I’ve had most of my care through the Private Sector or University, where there is cheap GP visits and some free counseling – so I haven’t interacted with the public centre too much except for in more emergency type situations, and here are my experiences:
One of the biggest, and actually really positive interactions I’ve had with the NZ Mental Health System is with the Psych Emergency helpline based at Cornwall House & the Taylor Centre. I’ve had tough periods where they’ll call me every single day or as needed just to check in and that was really fantastic – I strongly believe everyone should have their local or one of the national helpline numbers saved in their phone.
When visiting the centres, one observation was that they were so depressing! It almost seems too stereotypical to be true but there was not a window in sight! On one occasion, my psychiatric appointment was only 15 minutes long and I found it just not long enough to really talk through things. It felt rushed.
Knowing the waiting times that are typical of our overflowing public systems, would I have had the same outcomes and be as happy as I am now from purely public care? Almost definitely not – and that’s not acceptable. I definitely think there’s some really good stuff going on in our Mental Health Care System, but it can’t keep up with demand. I think because we often can’t see the suffering associated with mental health, we underestimate the urgency – but people do need to be seen quickly, because the pain they feel is real.
Lucy, 21, is leading a campaign on OurActionStation to bring mental health education into schools.