Underfunding

Another major theme of the stories is underfunding, 97 stories talked about underfunded services. Some of the most positive stories submitted to the review, nonetheless expressed real concern that underfunding of mental health services meant that people working in those services were both overworked and underpaid.

"Without the mental health services I received I have no idea where I would be today. They were incredibly supportive and open minded and helped me become a productive member of society again after a full on breakdown and manic episode.  My experience of mental health services in New Zealand was fantastic. They were stretched in terms of resources but they did the best they could and in the end, for me, they did fantastically."

Mental health in New Zealand has always been underfunded and the skilled professionals who work in the mental health sector always underpaid. Mental health services in this country need a financial shot in the arm to prepare for an uncertain future and the growing number of people experiencing acute problems. More resources are needed for our health and support workers"

Another problem identified in a number of stories was the reduction in amount of publicly-funded therapeutic treatments. Several stories were about a reduction in the number of funded therapy sessions available and how that had undermined their ability to build trust with a therapist.

“In my first counselling session I was told "the number of sessions we are able to give you has just gone down to four so we will skip the initial stuff". I didn't go back because I felt unable to discuss these issues without forming any kind of connection to the person who was dealing with me - she wasn't bad, just overworked. I felt like a nuisance in a way and as though I should be able to figure it out myself. What we seem to lack is someone who will take the time to sit down with you and just listen. I still don't really know what to do - but I am trying to grapple with things myself as best I can. I don't want to get to a crisis point, I hope I don't. I don't trust this broken system for myself, and I definitely don't trust this for others...not one bit. "

Related to underfunding, many people said that cost was a major barrier to accessing private mental health services, often the only option available to people who understood that they were “not sick enough” to access publicly funded services.