Lemming-like Approach Won't Solve Mental Health Staffing Issues - New Conservative NZ

Lemming-like Approach Won’t Solve Mental Health Staffing Issues

“A recent Government-commissioned report to assess the progress made on their 2019 $1.9 billion mental health initiative is being hampered by lemming-like beliefs and assumptions that risk tipping the entire $1.9 billion over an ideological cliff,” says Stephen Taylor, a private Social Services Outcomes Reviewer and Mental Health Spokesman for New Conservative .

“Since 1994, there have been fifty reports into the status of mental health in New Zealand, none of which were very favourable, so we are not suffering from a deficit of data. What we lack in the mental health space in New Zealand is demonstrable evidence of outcomes, that being knowing  what works, and what doesn’t in mental health service delivery. There also seems to be an almost obsessive avoidance by stakeholders and mental health service delivery providers to meaningfully engage in routine client outcome measurement of service provision,” says Mr Taylor.

“If the powers-that-be were to engage with what now presents as over seventy years of international mental health outcome research, they would quickly discover where the cliff edges in their thinking and assumptions were located, particularly so when it comes to what it takes to adequately staff the mental health sector. 

For example,

  • it only takes around fifty hours to train someone to work competently in a mental health role; 
  • ethnicity of workers contribute precisely nothing to improving client outcomes for any particular ethnicity; 
  • more than enough mental health worker capacity to meet demand already exists in the private mental health and counselling sector, but is as yet untapped; 
  • qualification type, professional registration or membership, clinical supervision, or time working in the sector all make no difference to attaining positive client outcomes for mental health service users; 
  • Telehealth service delivery matches the efficacy of face to face mental health intervention..

“None of the above evidential realisations are being properly prioritised in mental health service delivery in New Zealand; rather, like lemmings, good money funds, poor policy and sans-evidence based practices, which throws clients in crisis off the mental service delivery cliff,” says Mr Taylor.

“If we are not formally engaging with mental health outcome literature, nor formally measuring mental health outcomes, then we are guessing, assuming or even hoping for positive outcomes.We are just not achieving positive outcomes, and we won’t whilst we keep flocking to mental health sector thinking and practices that haven’t worked, will never work, and which result in dropping clients in crisis into a service delivery abyss,“ concludes Mr Taylor.


Stephen Taylor, Mental Health Spokesman for New Conservative