Bet­ter spent build­ing a fence?

The Northland Age - - Local News -

The New Con­ser­va­tive party has ac­knowl­edged the huge chal­lenges New Zealand faces in the field of men­tal health, and wel­comed the commitment made by the gov­ern­ment to ad­dress­ing that in the 2019 Bud­get.

Leader Leighton Baker ques­tioned whether that money would be spent at the bot­tom of the cliff or the top.

“Bot­tom-of-the-cliff re­sponses, while nec­es­sary, will have to be paid this year, next year and in­def­i­nitely, whereas top of the cliff pre­ven­tions look at ad­dress­ing the is­sues be­fore they cause problems, and there­fore re­duce the costs to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions,” he said.

“Top of the cliff pre­ven­tions re­quire us to un­der­stand the driv­ers of men­tal health ill­ness, and there is not just one, so there is no one sim­ple solution.

“How­ever, there are some ob­vi­ous com­mon de­nom­i­na­tors that should be ad­dressed if we are se­ri­ous about positively af­fect­ing men­tal health.”

One of those com­mon de­nom­i­na­tors was fam­ily break­down.

“It has been said that it is not that there are too many Ma¯ori in prison, but that there are too many peo­ple from fa­ther­less homes in prison, and the same ap­plies to men­tal health,” he said.

“In 1993, re­searchers from Wis­con­sin said, ‘We can say with great con­fi­dence that fa­ther ab­sence is . . . a men­tal health risk for chil­dren’.

“If we are to ad­dress men­tal health, then we do need to sup­port and en­cour­age fam­i­lies to stay to­gether, for the health of their chil­dren.”

Cannabis use was an­other fac­tor.

“The Dunedin lon­gi­tu­di­nal study found that, study mem­bers with reg­u­lar cannabis use and per­sis­tent de­pen­dence ex­pe­ri­enced down­ward so­cio-eco­nomic mo­bil­ity, more fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties, work­place problems and re­la­tion­ship con­flict in early midlife,” he said.

“Clearly, le­gal­is­ing a sub­stance that causes that sort of harm is not in the best in­ter­ests of New Zealand’s men­tal health. Le­gal­i­sa­tion and con­trol of al­co­hol has not re­duced its harm to so­ci­ety.

“We hope that the gov­ern­ment will tar­get the funds an­nounced last week mostly at pre­ven­tion and not just re­spond­ing to the na­tion’s men­tal health chal­lenges.”

Leighton Baker

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