Nikau House provides an important service for vulnerable Nelson people with mental health challenges and it would be a mistake for it to close, National’s Mental Health spokesperson Matt Doocey said in Nelson today.
“We need more community health services like Nikau House, not less. I strongly support local MP Nick Smith’s opposition to the proposed closure and National backs Dr Smith’s proposal to require the District Health Board to retain the facility if National is elected to Government in September.
“Demand for mental health services is increasing and will grow with the job losses and economic stress that has come with Covid-19. Nikau House services are unique as they are community based and its 200 clients are encouraged to support each other.
“Labour promised big on mental health but has delivered very little and is now overseeing the closure of long established services like Nikau House. The Government has spent millions on the Mental Health Inquiry that concluded in 2018 but has failed to deliver on its recommendations of expanding community services.
“Labour regularly makes bold announcement in Wellington but is fails to follow through and deliver, particularly around delivering improved mental health services.
“The timing of this proposed closure is particularly cruel. The necessary isolation as a result of Covid-19 has only added more challenges to those experiencing mental health issues. The proposed closure coming so soon after lockdown lifted has added unnecessary stress to this vulnerable group.
“Nelson MP Nick Smith raised this issue when the closure of Nikau House was first proposed and he has been relentless in his advocacy for its retention. Today we met with clients, families, mental health professions and community advocates who oppose the closure.
“National will keep Nikau House open. We will specifically include it in the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board’s Annual Plan and the Health Minister’s Letter of Expectation. We want to give Nelson’s vulnerable mental health clients confidence this service will be maintained.”