'Not doing his job': Ashley Bloomfield blamed for NZ's escalating mental health crisis

Lloyd Burr 18/11/2021

LISTEN: A mental health campaigner has blamed New Zealand's top health official for the country's escalating mental health crisis, including suicide attempts and threats.

Our mental health system is struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing demand.

In fact, according to statistics, about half of all mental health-related callouts in the past year were not attended by police.

The police say that's because they were busy with other higher priority situations.

Mental health campaigner Mike King, who has spent many years advocating for mental health, says he is not surprised.

"I've been talking with police, a number of officers, over a long period of time and they were telling me how many callouts they get associated with mental health," he told Lloyd Burr Live.

Last year it was reported that police were receiving at least 67 calls a day related to suicide attempts and mental health struggles.

But King says police can only do so much and responsibility needs to be shifted to the Director-General of Health.

"There is one person not doing his job; his name is Ashley Bloomfield," King said.

"He knows about these problems, you'd have to be a blind man and a deaf man not to have seen and heard the stories that have been going on now ever since he's been in the job."

King says Dr Bloomfield has done "nothing" to help alleviate the pressures on the mental health system, a system King says the Director-General of Health has "forgotten" about.

"They are grossly under-resourced, grossly under-manned," he told Magic Talk.

"Ashley is so stuck on COVID and standing up on the podium every day at one o'clock and getting a little pat on the head."

King says the mental health crisis sits "firmly" at Dr Bloomfield's feet.

"He is failing to talk to anyone, he is failing to front up to this issue, and he just keeps deflecting.

"As long as he is there it will continue to go on," King told Magic Talk.

Listen to the full interview with Mike King above.

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