Our call to action to the Government: implement He Ara Oranga

27 Jul, 2020

Every year, it is our privilege to talk with thousands of New Zealanders about mental health. You talk to us kanohi ki te kanohi when we’re out in the community, DM us on social media, write us emails, respond to our resources or call us on the phone.

Through kōrero with you and through our work with others in the mental health sector, we have some understanding of how New Zealanders are doing at the moment, and we have a picture of the challenges many are facing. Our role is to listen and then to advocate for meaningful change in Aotearoa, and today we’ve released our Election 2020 position statement. It’s a call to action to politicians, asking them to come up with a plan to implement He Ara Oranga.

He Ara Oranga is the report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction. Published in November 2018, it is an ambitious new blueprint for mental health and addiction in Aotearoa.

The Government accepted, accepted in principle or agreed to further consideration of 38 of the 40 recommendations made by the inquiry panel, but we’re still waiting on a plan of implementation for many of the recommendations.

Since the report was published, COVID-19 has created new challenges for our mental health, but we still believe He Ara Oranga is the best guide we have to protect wellbeing and support people experiencing mental distress.

So, we’re asking for a plan. We know it’s not as immediately sympathetic as calling for new beds in mental health units or more hours of funded counselling. But a plan will ensure we get those things and that the factors that can cause or contribute to poor mental health – including (but not limited to) racism, colonisation, discrimination, family violence, poor housing, bullying and isolation – can be addressed in a meaningful way.

We want to see a clear, long-term implementation plan that specifies ongoing investment in mental health and wellbeing. We want to see timelines, measures, targets (including equity resourcing and actions) and evaluation plans.The plan needs to show how the recommendations either agreed in principle by the government (or as requiring further consideration), will move from principles to action. And, it will need to be transparent and show how the sector and communities can contribute to its success.

We have ten ‘do now’ priority areas we want to see put into action.

In the next few weeks leading up to the election we will be meeting with MPs and candidates to talk them through these priority areas and encourage them to commit to implementing He Ara Oranga. At every step of the way we will be thinking of everyone in Aotearoa who is currently experiencing a mental health problem, who is feeling suicidal, or who is mourning someone lost to suicide. If that’s you, know you are our priority. We want to create a better Aotearoa for you, and we believe that solid policy is the way to do that.

This wero represents a lot of work for the next government, but we believe it is essential. COVID-19 has created and will continue to cause unprecedented strain on our collective mental health, there is no doubt about that. But it also presents us with an opportunity: to reimagine wellbeing together. To be courageous and bold enough to create an Aotearoa where inequities are acknowledged and addressed, health is considered across all policy decisions and the meaning of wellbeing is one we define together.

Read our full Call to Action

Download Summary PDF

We’d love to hear what you think. Email us on policyandadvocacy@mentalhealth.org.nz