The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) welcomes the Government’s mental health inquiry as an opportunity to take steps towards ensuring all New Zealanders can access high quality mental health care and enjoy positive mental health and wellbeing.
This is an investment in getting mental health right for New Zealand – this is an issue that affects everyone. At least half of all New Zealanders experience a diagnosable mental health problem at some point in their lives, and when mental health problems and suicide occur, they can affect whole whānau and wider communities.
We know we don’t have things right now. There are many signs of a system under pressure. These include a suicide rate that is not decreasing, reports of understaffing and high staff turnover within services, and inadequate crisis responses that leave too many people without support when they most need it.
It’s very encouraging the Government is committed to an integrated approach to promoting mental wellbeing, preventing mental health problems and responding to the needs of those people who are experiencing mental distress. The MHF welcomes a cross-Government approach across a range of sectors including health, education and justice, working with service providers and communities, as well as including the voices of people with lived experience.
Addressing New Zealand’s response to mental health isn’t just about building more hospitals and specialist services. We need a focus on prevention, as well as system reform, making sure people get the kinds of support they need when they need it. We are encouraged that the inquiry acknowledges the drivers of poor mental health (such as poverty, domestic violence, unemployment, discrimination, racism and homophobia) and the inequalities which currently exist, and want to make sure that addressing these issues forms part of our national response to mental health.
There is significant work to do and this review is broad-ranging. Its success will depend on hearing from a wide range of people and organisations about different aspects of the issue. We want to encourage everyone who has a stake in this issue to get involved and let the inquiry hear from them.
The MHF will be getting involved to ensure that the inquiry looks at the big picture, to create a visionary, ambitious and cohesive approach to promoting wellbeing, preventing mental health problems, and supporting people through hard times.
From this inquiry we hope to see a solid action plan which will serve to drastically improve mental health outcomes for everyone.
For more information, visit the Department of Internal Affairs website to read the Cabinet paper and Terms of Reference.
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