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Mental Health Minister: when you call an ambulance, they send the cops, that’s got to change

Summarised by Centrist

A whack to the head as a kid and he’s never been the same – NZ’s first Mental Health Minister Matt Doocey reveals how his own trauma is guiding his vision for the new portfolio, and why he’s awarded a $6m major supplier contract without going through the standard procurement process.

New Zealanders should expect the same standard of care for mental health that’s available for physical health, says Matt Doocey, the country’s first Mental Health Minister. 

In a wide ranging discussion with Q+A’s Jack Tame, Doocey draws from personal experiences with mental health following a head injury when he was young and outlines his ambitions to reform New Zealand’s mental health care. 

He says a paradigm shift is needed on how the ‘crisis pathway’ of mental health is approached. “When you call 111 for a physical health crisis, you get a health response. When you call 111 with a mental health crisis, you get a criminal justice response,” he says.  

Doocey says his first 100 days were spent examining how the previous government allocated billions of dollars towards mental health initiatives and its problems with implementation. 

He defends the exemption of the “I Am Hope” initiative (an NGO dedicated to youth suicide prevention) from standard procurement processes after National awarded the group $6M. 

“One of the reasons is the Gumboot Friday platform has over 400 mental health professionals on that platform, they can take referrals for young people and be seen within 48 hours,” he says. 

Listen and watch the whole interview over on YouTube

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