On Gumboot Friday Mike King slams Government on mental health response

News 05/04/2019

Mental health advocate Mike King says it's time to call out the Government over what he says is slow progress on fixing the mental health system.

King was on The AM Show to discuss his Gumboot Friday initiative, which aims to raise money for free mental health counselling for children.

But he took the time to criticise the Government, which conducted an inquiry into the mental health system last year but is yet to act on the recommendations.

"I've been really optimistic on [The AM Show] in the past just going 'give it time, give it time, give it time',  well it is getting close to the time when we start calling them out.

So David, [Dr] David Clark, it's time for you to front my friend and tell us what's happening.

The inquiry presented its report to the Government on November 30, 2018 it was released on December 4, but at the time the Government said it would not respond until March 2019.

March has now been and gone, and Cabinet Minister Kris Faafoi said on The AM Show a response will come by the end of April.

"Mike is right to ask questions, to want answer to the inquiry, and it will come soon - by the end of the month," Faafoi told The AM Show.

"I don't think there are many families that haven't been touched by mental health issues, so dealing with it in a responsible manner - but also a swift manner - is important."

MP Judith Collins, a former minister of police, corrections, veterans' affairs, justice, ACC and ethnic affairs, said Labour had cancelled National Party programmes when it came into power.

She pointed out a pilot programme that would have seen a mental health worker attend all crisis calls along with police and ambulance staff.

We had a plan in place, we had the funding in place, and Labour came in and just scrapped the whole lot.

"Does it make sense to always throw out everything the previous Government has done, just because it's not your idea? I don't think it does."

King said people who want to donate to Gumboot Friday can use gumboot receptacles placed around the country, or the fund's official Givealittle page.

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Katie Fitzgerald