The government of Canterbury promised its citizens to invest a large amount of money in its battle against mental health problems.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, citing the spike in earthquake activity following the Valentine’s Day aftershock, confirmed that the government is working on a multimillion-dollar effort to strengthen Canterbury’s mental health services in response to the petition of the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) for more funding.

Earthquakes Continue to Worsen Mental Health Issues

According to Coleman, government officials already met with David Meates, CDHB CEO, regarding the investment. Since the 2011 earthquakes, mental health problems in Canterbury have gone worse.

Murray Cleverley, CDHB Chair, claimed that the package will help the healthcare unit of Canterbury to better address the mental health issues plaguing the citizens for years.

Cleverley added that he will appreciate a one-time funding instead of a long-time fund injection. However, in the case of a one-off injection, Cleverley hopes that the government will continue to support the efforts in the long run.

Since the onslaught of the earthquakes, there has been a 69% increase in child and youth mental health presentations, 65% increase in rural mental health presentations, 43% increase in adult mental health presentations, and 37% increase in emergency mental health presentations.

Need for Improving Canterbury’s Whole Healthcare System

Sue Bagshaw, Founder of 298 Youth Health Center and one of those who led the calls for funding, expressed her delight upon learning of the news. After five years of fighting for the extra cash injection, Bagshaw said that the details need to be available as soon as possible.

Furthermore, she hopes that the government will gradually inject additional budget for primary and secondary care, focusing mainly on youth services.

Bagshaw believes that Canterbury needs to enhance its school-based support systems. To achieve this, she noted that salaries of school employees shall be given focus as well.

Meanwhile, Jo Kane, a CDHB board member, said that the government was merely reacting to what is already hot in the media. Kane emphasized that there is a need to spend more money to improve the entire healthcare system of Canterbury.