New Zealand unveils world’s first ‘wellbeing’ budget to help the vulnerable

It’s a familiar story seen in countries around the world: even while a nation’s economy is growing, marginalized communities aren’t benefitting from any of the fruits of that growth in their daily lives.

Such is the case in New Zealand where wealth disparity is on the rise despite steady growth in the country’s economy. For that reason, New Zealand has unveiled the world’s first wellbeing budget, which will pour billions of dollars into mental health services and agencies that seek to tackle child poverty and family violence.

Mental health received the biggest funding and investment boost, receiving NZ$1.9 billion ($1.23 billion). Half a billion was earmarked for the “missing middle” particularly – New Zealanders suffering from mild to moderate anxiety and depressive disorders that did not require hospitalization but significantly affected their quality of life. And Close to half a billion would be spent on new frontline mental health workers stationed in doctor’s surgeries and Indigenous clinics, with the government aiming to help 325,000 people with “mild to moderate” mental health and addiction needs by 2023-24.

Although comparable countries such as the UK have begun to measure the national rate of wellbeing, New Zealand is the first western country to design its entire budget based on wellbeing priorities and instruct its ministries to design policies to improve wellbeing.

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