Building capacity in mental health services

23 May 2022

Rising living costs, increasing workloads, whānau and relationship worries, Covid-19 – all of these factors can make everyday living a real challenge at the best of times. But for many people, depression, anxiety and other mental health problems can arise, making the activities and interactions of daily life harder to manage.

  • Cathy Andrew image

    Cathy Andrew, Amo Matua | Acting Executive Dean – Health at the University of Canterbury

In Budget 2022 the Government announced more funding for specialist mental health and addiction services

Amongst the $100m investment in mental health over four years, there is $10m earmarked for workforce development of specialist services.

Cathy Andrew, Amo Matua | Acting Executive Dean – Health at the University of Canterbury (UC), says this Budget rollout will ensure the health sector continues to build capability and capacity where it’s urgently needed.

“There is a huge demand for talking therapies across the expanding mental health and addiction services, as well as primary care. As the demand for these therapies increases, so does the need for specialised training,” says Andrew.

Earlier this year UC secured funding from the Ministry of Health | Manatū Hauora, to provide fees scholarships for mental health and primary care practitioners looking to upskill. A package of postgraduate courses in health sciences, psychology and counselling has been developed to meet their professional development needs. As a contracted service between UC and the Ministry, the training package aims to help transform the mental health, addiction and mental wellbeing workforce to enable it to respond to people’s mental wellbeing need and to intervene early.

“Talking therapies and brief interventions are key therapeutic interventions when engaging with tangata whai ora, people seeking wellness,” says Andrew. “Support in the form of talking therapies provides a lifeline, helping people face personal issues and find ways new ways to thrive.”

Mental health professionals need a myriad of skills ranging from cognitive behaviour therapy and motivating behaviour change, to focused commitment and acceptance theory (FACT) training. As our lives become more complex, so do the mental health and addiction issues that individuals face.

While promoting access to training in core skills remains a priority in Kia Manawanui Aotearoa, the long-term pathway to mental wellbeing, UC will continue to adapt its courses to provide specialist skills, applied experience and enhanced knowledge where it is most needed in the health sector to support our community.

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