Government pulling funding for Mental Health Foundation’s COVID-19 campaign ‘doesn’t make sense’ – CEO

“We started in the COVID-19 lockdowns – it’s the first time we’ve really promoted those kinds of behaviours of connecting with one another, looking out for your neighbours, making sure you’re doing some exercise every day, doing things to keep your mind active,” he said.

“All of those kinds of things, which are simple but actually work to boost your wellbeing, we started doing that on a national level. Trouble is, we’re now tailing it off; the resources to help us support that end in June, which just does not make sense at all.”

The comments come just a week after a study commissioned by the MHF was released, which found a quarter of New Zealanders – 1.25 million of us – have poor levels of mental and emotional wellbeing after nearly a year of living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

That rose to almost a third for Kiwi women, who are most at-risk of developing poor mental health alongside those with an annual income of less than $50,000, under-35s and Pasifika people.

Robinson says international research has proven that people’s mental health actually initially improves during COVID-19 lockdowns due to a sense of camaraderie, but worsens over time “when you realise the world’s never going to be the same again”.

In an effort to resist lockdown’s effects, the Mental Health Foundation launched its Getting Through Together campaign with funding from the Government, which promoted tools and tips to improve wellbeing.

Data shows it worked; the campaign reached more than a third of adults, of whom 58 percent said they were empowered to take action for their wellbeing as a result. Data shows the campaign was particularly effective among Māori and Pasifika communities.

However funding will come to an end in June – something Robinson last week said represents a “short-sighted waste of investment and a missed opportunity to build long-term positive mental wellbeing”.