The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand (MHF) welcomes He Ara Oranga, the Mental Health Inquiry’s report to the Minister of Health and is today calling for the Government to get on with making the changes urgently required to transform mental health in New Zealand.
“The Inquiry calls for a number of radical changes, and if they are all put into practice and the voices of the thousands of New Zealanders who participated are honoured, we have a real opportunity to create lasting transformational change,” MHF chief executive Shaun Robinson says.
“We are particularly keen to see work completed urgently on the national suicide prevention strategy as New Zealand has been without one since 2016,” Mr Robinson says. “The government have been waiting for the Inquiry, and the Inquiry has instructed them to stop delaying and get going. There is no further justification for delay, too much time and too many lives have been lost.”
The panel have clearly listened to those who shared their experiences and have now put the responsibility on politicians and the mental health sector to take these stories seriously.
The Foundation urges the public and all stakeholders to take the time to read the report thoroughly and digest its recommendations. It’s a lengthy, nuanced and thoughtful report.
“The Inquiry note that many of their recommendations have been made in the past. Some of these ideas have been written into past strategies and policies, but not implemented and this has been a source of frustration for many. It’s time to stop passing the buck and make a real commitment to improving the mental health and wellbeing of New Zealanders,” Mr Robinson says.
The Foundation believes that delays in implementing past recommendations have had a significant human cost and urges the Government to start acting today.
“We’ve had more than 10 years of neglect and erosion of mental health services and responses,” Mr Robinson says. “There is no more time to waste; it’s time for action.”
The Inquiry is calling for comprehensive reform of New Zealand’s response to mental distress and wellbeing, and their recommendations must be implemented as a whole, not cherry-picked. To create the kind of change we need this Government and all future Governments to be courageous enough to make bold decisions and learn from the mistakes of the past.
“From our perspective, the main barriers to change have been political will, momentum and sustained investment,” Mr Robinson says. “It will be too easy for politicians, government agencies and DHBs to find wiggle room not to really change. We, along with many others, will be keeping the pressure on our political decision-makers to overcome these barriers in implementing the recommendations of this report.”
The Foundation believes that work needs to start urgently to create the new leadership structures recommended by the Inquiry, and increased access to services need to be represented in Budget 2019.
“We will not allow mental health to be neglected any longer,” Mr Robinson says. “No political party can take the moral high-ground here – it’s time to stop trading insults and start working together, across parties, across government agencies and across communities and commit to doing better. Let’s get on with it.”
Many of the recommendations in the report reflect changes the Foundation has long advocated for. The Foundation is particularly pleased to see:
The Foundation believes there have been some significant omissions in the report, including:
View the MHF Response to the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addictions web page.
For further information or comment, please contact:
Communications & Marketing Manager
Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
Phone: 09 623 4810 ext 811 | Mobile: 021 740 454