The number of people who turned up to Whanganui's emergency department with mental health issues hit a five-year high this year, new figures show.

Figures released under the Official Information Act show 199 people presented at emergency departments during the month of June - more than twice the 67 presentations in June 2013, which was a five-year low.

Nineteen of those people who presented this June were admitted to the mental health in-patient unit.

The number of dedicated community beds remained the same over the five years, at 42 beds.


Provisional statistics released at the start of October confirmed there were eight suicides in Whanganui for the year to June 30. Nationally, the number of people admitted to mental health in-patient units, presenting at emergency departments and calling adult mental health services increased over the five years. Meanwhile, the number of dedicated community beds dropped.

Labour's associate health spokesman David Clark believes the data shows funding for mental health services is drying up across the country.

But Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says the claims are wrong and funding is increasing annually.

"The trends are worrying," Dr Clark said. "Figures obtained by Labour show the number of people presenting to emergency departments as a result of mental health issues have more than tripled in the last four years. Alongside that, callouts for adult mental health services have risen significantly and the number of mental health clients admitted to DHB mental health in-patient units is also increasing. At the same time there are fewer dedicated beds available for patients. Too often care is being devolved to the community without support and funding following."

However, Dr Coleman said: "Funding for mental health and addiction services has steadily increased - from $1.1 billion in 2008/09 to over $1.4 billion in 2014/15."