Posted April 06, 2018 11:10:24A number of psychologists are calling for an overhaul of the way the profession is run in New England, after it emerged that the number of psychiatrists has increased by about 30 per cent over the past five years.
New Zealand’s Bureau of Psychology (BOP) statistics show that in 2015, there were about 7,400 psychiatrists and psychologists employed in the state, compared to about 765 psychiatrists and 668 psychologists in 2017.BOP president Peter McWilliams told Polygon in a statement that “this is not acceptable”.
“It is disappointing to see the numbers continue to climb but there is still much work to be done.
The Bureau of Psychological Services (BPS) has said the numbers are due to the “dramatic increase in psychiatric admissions over the last five years” and “the need to recruit and retain more clinicians to support mental health care services”.
McWilliams said the increase in admissions was due to “the number of people seeking help for a range of conditions including depression, anxiety, panic disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
The BPS has also seen an increase in referrals for social support, including those who have recently been discharged or released from hospital.”
The BOP also said the number was “more than doubled from 2015 to 2016”, which McWilliams said was “due to the introduction of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy, including the national suicide hotline, the ‘call to action’ programme and a number of other measures”.
McWilliam said the rise in psychiatrists’ numbers was “disappointing” and the BOP “is working to reduce the burden of mental health issues on our communities”.”BOP will continue to work to improve the quality of our mental health services, and ensure that we continue to have an open and inclusive approach to mental health and wellbeing services, regardless of the level of funding or resources available.”
The National Party is calling for a national mental health strategy and the release of all mental health statistics from the BPS.
“New Zealanders deserve a plan for mental health that addresses the root causes of mental illness, which will help us heal the wounds of the past and ensure we can all thrive together,” National Party health spokesman Adam Drummond said.
The Bop statistics show an increase of approximately 4,000 psychiatrists in New York state, but Drummond dismissed the claims of a “significant increase” in the number.
“The number of new psychiatrists in the New York State population is only 2,800.
It’s a tiny proportion of the overall population in New Jersey.
The numbers in the Bop are simply the numbers from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.”
New York State has the highest percentage of psychiatrists per capita in the US at about 8,000, but it has also been criticised by some for failing to provide adequate mental health treatment and support for those with mental illness.
McWilliams added that while “all New Zealanders” deserve a mental health plan, “we need to focus on those who are most in need”.
“New York has a proven record of supporting mental health patients and ensuring their access to a safe and dignified environment, while simultaneously providing them with adequate care.”
This is why we are calling on the Government to implement a comprehensive mental health policy to ensure that every New Zealander has access to the best possible care and support.”