Police are struggling to cope with a growing mental health-related workload - including a 6 per cent increase in attempted suicide callouts each year.

The statistic is included in an updated four-year plan that outlines the increase in demand in family violence, mental health, cyber-crime, child protection and other areas.

Its publication comes as Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne today announce more money for the suicide mortality review committee, after a successful trial.

Coleman said the committee will provide insight into factors and patterns of suicide, which will guide new suicide prevention activities and reinforce existing programmes. It will get $750,000 a year from Ministry of Health baseline funding.


"Cabinet is in the process of considering new mental health initiatives and the details of these are expected to be released in the next few weeks," Coleman said.

Family violence and mental health jobs are time-intensive for police. On an average day officers will attend 74 mental health-related callouts, with each taking, on average, three hours to resolve.

The Police Association has called the surge in mental health jobs an "indictment" on the wider mental health service, and says police are being left to care for the vulnerable.

The mental health system has become an election issue after a number of reports highlighting problems with services.

Labour leader Andrew Little has said improving mental health services will be a priority for the party if in Government after September's election.

The newly released four-year plan cites an annual 6 per cent increase in attempted suicide calls since 2009, and an overall 4 per cent increase in mental health incidents.

Since 2009, there has been a 51 per cent increase in total mental health callouts.

On family violence, the total volume of calls attended increased by 55 per cent since June 2009, to more than 100,000 a year. Over the same time, calls that eventually saw a criminal charge laid did not increase - callouts that didn't result in a charge increased by more than 100 per cent.


The number of child protection investigations have also grown, which require specialist skills and intensive resourcing, the four-year plan states. As of August last year 446 cases were awaiting assignment, a level consistent over the past two years. Police say "high priority" cases are assigned immediately.

New Zealand ranks second worst in the developed world for suicide in those aged 25 and under. It is the worst in the world for suicide in those aged 15 to 19. The suicide rates have remained largely unchanged for two decades.

As part of Budget 2017, an extra $224m will be invested into mental health services over four years. About $25m a year will go on yet-to-be-confirmed "innovative" proposals to tackle mental health issues.

The Government will also boost police numbers by 880 sworn officers and 245 non-sworn staff, at an extra cost of $503 million over four years.

The Herald has highlighted the issue of youth suicide in a special series called Break the Silence.



If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.

If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:


LIFELINE: 0800 543 354

NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737

SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666


YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234

There are lots of places to get support. For others, click here.