By: Audrey Young

Next year’s Budget will have a special emphasis on mental health, Finance Minister Grant Robertson has revealed.

Speaking to the Labour Party conference in Dunedin he said mental health will be one of the five core priorities that would define the first “Wellbeing Budget.”

He said more details would be revealed in December in the Budget Policy Statement.

“They [will] cover areas where we think the outcomes will make a substantive difference to both our current and future wellbeing – and yes, we will finally be giving mental health the priority and focus that it deserves.”

At the half yearly opening of the books in December, Treasury would release a “dashboard” of indicators showing the current wellbeing of the country, said Robertson.

“It includes the tangible, like incomes and home ownership, but also the intangible like life satisfaction and cultural wellbeing.

“It is a work in progress,” he said.

“We need to make sure it is truly reflective of Aotearoa New Zealand and all that makes us unique. It will evolve over the coming years but it is a great start to a new way of thinking about what counts as success.”

The concept of a wellbeing budget has been well foreshadowed and is a refinement of work begun under former Finance Minister Bill English under the aegis of the Living Standards Framework.

Robertson said there were limitations in tracking success on narrow measures such as gdp growth.

“We are moving beyond gdp to not just look at our financial health, but also the health of our environment and strength of our communities.

“I will report on all of those measures at budget time, including on how we are tracking at reducing child poverty.”

Speaking to reporters after his speech, alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Robertson said all New Zealanders understood that the country had not done enough over a long period of time to make sure that mental wellbeing was of the highest standard.

Robertson’s speech was followed by youth panel chaired by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, some of who talked about the mental health pressures on youth today.

Source: NZ Herald


  1. Grant Robertson continually talks about New Zealanders’ mental “Well-being”. This will even be a “well-being budget”. However, I am not quite sure it is government’s duty to be responsible for everything. There is a limit to the degree of nanny-state we can (and should) demand. All I want to spend my tax-money on is to make sure we have facilities and personnel available to deal with our two real mental illnesses, namely the endogenous depressions (e.g. bi-polar) and the dementias (e.g. Altzheimers and schizophrenia). Sure, it would be marvelous to have an army of state funded school mental health nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc., to deal with the myriad of other mental afflictions (i.e. the neuroses) – but they must be rationed according to severity, simply because of cost. It is essential we diagnose each little human case scrupulously – not just call it all “mental well-being”.

  2. Andy your writing sounds so intelligent and such authority.
    Then read the “two real mental illnesses.”
    It is then I realize your lack of understanding about mental illness.
    I would like to refer you to the manual DMSV 5.
    This manual clarifies what are mental illnesses. It is wonderful that this manual exsits and I refer to this as the authority on what is mental illness and what isnt.

    • Sorry Cindy, that diagnostic system (which our NZ psychiatrists fawn on) clarifies absolutely nothing – it rather muddles the picture. With each new edition clever psychiatrists in America invent hundreds of new, fanciful mental afflictions, never heard about before in human history. Worse, some of these new diagnoses are being used by our NZ psychiatrists to camouflage the real mental illness of schizophrenia – that word is now becoming non/PC. Those psychiatrists naively think that they can make the illness disappear by using a different diagnosis. I repeat : There exist two real mental illnesses only – and until a hundred years ago there was only one, namely human insanity, functional dementia, which is an integral part of being human – and which one per cent of us must come down with. Depression was then not even thought about as an illness.

      But yes, you are right : I do speak with authority. And I challenge our present mental health authorities, i.e. any psychiatrists or the Mental Health Foundation, to present scientific evidence that my ideas are wrong.


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