Faster access to mental health services and the creation of new services to meet ever-changing demand are both on Mental Health Support Trust Otago manager Grant Cooper’s election wish list.
Clients and their families needed to be at the centre of every service, he said.
“Sometimes people have to squeeze into a mental health system, whereas we need systems to be flexible to meet people’s needs,” Mr Cooper said.
What was crucial was getting the right support at the right time and having continuity between services, he said.
“When people are in distress, having to wait to connect to a service can often exacerbate the distress.”
Improvements could be achieved by promoting, developing and resourcing what was working well.
“We also need to be more creative with developing new services, especially for people who have often fallen through the cracks,” Mr Cooper said.
“Individualised funding is also a possible option where supports can be created to meet quite specific needs that fall outside existing service provision.”
Asked if the availability of services for young people was a particular issue in Otago, as it was in some other places, Mr Cooper said adequate support for services across age ranges could be an issue.
The quality of services offered by some providers was good, and it was more a case of not enough support being available, “especially at the times people need it”.
The adequacy of mental health services and their funding has been increasingly under the spotlight pre-election.
Asked if he was hopeful a new government, of whatever hue, would provide more resources for mental health services, Mr Cooper said he was.
“Let’s wait and see.”