The Mental Health Foundation (MHF) says the annual report from the office of the director of mental health shows a system that is not improving, and reinforces the urgent need for leadership and an action-plan for major change to improve New Zealand’s response to mental health and wellbeing.
“The report describes an ever-increasing demand for services which has not been matched by funding or a strategic response. We need more focus on keeping people well and building their positive mental health. When services are required, the report shows a sector under increasing pressure and a stretched system that is struggling to make progress on the quality, consistency and improved care and support needed by all New Zealanders,” Mental Health chief executive Shaun Robinson says.
“The MHF is pleased the new Government is taking mental health seriously and making plans for change by re-establishing the Mental Health Commission and conducting a mental health inquiry. However, we also hope that immediate action is taken to address pressing needs.”
The figures presented in the report on mental health services again show serious problems in people accessing and getting quality help.
“A 79% consumer satisfaction rate with mental health and addiction services is unacceptable and a number like that would not be good enough in other industries," Mr Robinson says.
"It represents tens of thousands of Kiwis who are not receiving the support they need.
“The figure also doesn’t take into account the number of people who are not accessing services at all.”
The over-representation of Māori in seclusion and under compulsory treatment orders continues to be unacceptable.
“New Zealand’s approach to mental health and wellbeing must address the disproportionate burden of distress and suicide experienced by Tangata Whenua. Services are clearly not working for many Māori and innovative culturally specific responses are required,” Mr Robinson says.
“With the mental health system under extreme pressure room for innovation becomes squeezed. Those for whom services are not adequate do not get the changes in attitudes and service models that their needs require. As a result, we keep getting the same poor outcomes year after year.”
For a long time, the MHF has advocated to end the use of seclusion and restraint because it is not a way to create recovery. In fact, it causes distress to both patients and staff, and poses significant risks to service users, including death, re-traumatisation, loss of dignity and other psychological harm.
“Again, we have run out of steam in terms of progress. The rate of seclusion has not declined for several years. More resourcing and commitment is needed to end these practices,” he says.
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