Success: Stop the Cuts to Mental Health Services in Christchurch

[23 March 2016] - Back in February mental health services in Canterbury were placed in the firing line as the Government attempted to cut nearly $140 million from health funding across the country. This was despite overwhelming demand from Canterbury residents, which had increased in light of the Valentine's Day earthquake.

The Government announced a backdown on these cuts.An extra $20 million in new funding for mental health services over the next three years will be provided. [1] The boost to funding for mental health in Canterbury will bring relief to community providers and the people of Canterbury.

Thank you for adding your name, along with 10,000 others, to our petition to the Minister of Health, Jonathan Coleman, to stop cuts to funding for mental health services in Canterbury.

People working on the ground in the mental health sector in Christchurch have told us that your collective voice was the much needed support the region needed and helped build pressure for the Government’s move.


  1. Extra $20m for mental health in Canterbury, RNZ, Monday 21 March

Despite overwhelming demand, mental health services in Canterbury are in the firing line as the government attempts to cut nearly $140 million from health funding across the country. [1]

No Government spin about “reprioritizing” can change the fact that the services Canterbury residents rely on are going to be significantly cut back. The Canterbury District Health Board's funding for mental health in 2015 was $21 less per person than the national average. For the coming year, Canterbury’s funding is expected to drop by $15 per person, while the national average will increase by about $10.

News of these cuts comes just days after Christchurch was struck by another major earthquake. Experts say the latest quake will have been a major setback for the recovery of those already suffering quake-related mental health issues. [2]

The Canterbury District Health Board has already raised warning flags about their capacity to deliver essential services. The Chief Executive, Chief Medical Officer, and Board Chair appeared in front of the health select committee at Parliament last week -- reporting that the health system in Canterbury was at risk of "starting to implode". [3] Given all that Cantabrians have been through in the past five years, these cuts are appalling. The people of Christchurch deserve our support, not the Government’s cold shoulder.

The Government is under pressure right now. Media coverage of the cuts has reflected both local and national outrage. [3, 4] Local paper The Press has challenged the Minister of Health, Johnathan Coleman, to visit police stations where officers are having to respond to double the number of call-outs for attempted suicide. [4] If this pressure can be sustained beyond a few days of news headlines, and spread across the country, then we have a good chance of getting the Government to reverse the cuts.

These funding cuts put at risk Canterbury’s most vulnerable citizens, like Mandy Richardson, who pleaded for help from emergency psychiatric services only to be told that unless she had a plan to take her own life, they could not see her immediately that show the need in Canterbury for mental health services. [5] The greatest and growing concern in Canterbury is for children. Like 12-year-old Liam, whose mother is battling to get help for his obsessive compulsive disorder but who was placed on an 18-week waiting list to see a psychiatrist. [6] Canterbury needs more, not less, funding for mental health services.

It’s up to us to show we will not stand for this and call on the Government to stop cuts to mental health services in Christchurch. If thousands of us demand that the Government #StopTheCuts, they could be be forced to back down.


  1. Canterbury's mental health funding to be cut,, February 16 2016

  2. Earthquake stress triggers mental health issues, The Press, May 25 2015

  3. Chch mental health funding slashed despite overwhelming demand, NewstalkZB, Tuesday, 16 February 2016

  4. Editorial: Mental health funding cuts a disgrace, The Press, February 17 2016

  5. Christchurch woman Mandy Richardson: "I was ready to kill myself",, November 9 2015

  6. Boy with OCD can't get mental health help, The Press, November 7 2015

Dear Minister of Health, Jonathan Coleman,

Stop cuts to funding for mental health services in Canterbury. Canterbury needs more funding for mental health services - not less

15,000 signatures

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