By: Nick Bewley

A mental health expert with more than 25 years experience believes getting mental health support is more difficult than it should be.

Associate Professor in Disaster Mental Health Dr Sarb Johal has been in Christchurch discussing changes needed to create a truly effective mental health system.

He says he hears far too many stories of people falling in the cracks between services.

“We need to be thinking about the services that are being joined up, are they as good as they can and what can we do to make sure they can as good as they can be so we have a world standard mental health system we can be proud of.”

Dr Johal says while the numbers of people in Christchurch needing mental health services post-earthquake are high, they are not surprising.

Demand for mental services has skyrocketed since the 2011 disaster, with the suicide rate increasing above the nationwide average, while children are waiting for months on end to be seen.

He says the government should be more be more collaborative with its policymaking, to tackle the growing trend, particularly in Christchurch.

Dr Johal says more can be done to help youth.

“Things like early intervention, things like having counsellors in schools so they can watch for people who are struggling and intervene at an earlier level. That’s something that we can be doing now.”

The government announced the first stage of hiring 80 in school mental health staff for Canterbury and Kaikoura children in February, with six staff set to be in place this month.

Source: Newstalk ZB

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