The National Party is promising voters it would implement a "Zero Suicide" strategy which would include 100,000 free counselling sessions for the immediate impacts of Covid-19.
And if elected, the party would also establish a Minister for Mental Health and commit $179 million over four years to various strategies it says would improve New Zealand's mental health outcomes.
The policy was announced this morning in Christchurch by National's mental health spokesperson Matt Doocey and health spokesman Shane Reti.
"Mental health is just as important as physical health," Doocey said.
"One in five Kiwis experience a mental health disorder at some point in their lives, and nearly nine per cent of adults experience psychological distress every month.
"The impact of Covid-19 has exacerbated this with more New Zealanders struggling with unemployment and an economic recession."
If elected, National would urgently fund 100,000 free counselling sessions to help those in mental distress.
Doocey said Labour had "promised big" on mental health but failed to deliver whereas National would improve mental health outcomes for generations to come.
It planned to do this by:
• Creating a Minister for Mental Health to oversee the strategy and its implementation.
• Establishing a $10m mental health support package for small and medium businesses where mental health has been identified as a concern.
• Funding mental wellbeing and suicide prevention workshops in rural communities.
• Investing $10m in a contestable fund to establish free psychological first aid training.
• Requiring schools to deliver a skills-based mental health and resilience training programme from years 1 to 13.
• Funding a baseline study of children and young people to understand the context and conditions underpinning their mental health.
These changes would underpin a "Zero Suicides" framework with the ultimate goal of reducing suicides in New Zealand to zero.
National said while access to mental health services was essential to achieving this, the strategy would also need to look at other factors like financial distress, childhood adversity, discrimination and drug and alcohol use.
Other parties which have released their mental health policies include Act and the Greens.
Act would take mental health funding away from the Ministry of Health and DHBs and instead give their $2 billion funding to a mental health and addition commission.
The Greens would expand mental health funding, including free counselling to everyone under 25 with the aim of extending this to all adults.