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Summit shows shared vision for mental health

29 August 2003

Press release

Summit shows shared vision for mental health services

The future for mental health is optimistic if plans unveiled by the Government yesterday, are carried through.

The plans were explained yesterday at a Mental Health Summit held in Waitakere City. Guest speakers included Health Minister Annette King, the Deputy Director-General of Mental Health, Janice Wilson, Mental Health Commission Chair, Jan Dowland and the Regional Director of Mental Health, Derek Wright.

The summit, hosted by Waitakere Shared Vision – representing mental health interests in the area – and Waitakere City Council and attended by more than 80 people was designed to establish whether there is in fact a “shared vision” for the future provision of mental health services in Waitakere City.

Minister King said the government is committed to providing additional resources to mental health funding and underlined the importance of primary health care in future mental health services.

She quoted the World Health Organisation as saying that the burden of psychiatric conditions, particularly depression, has been heavily underestimated across the world.

Afterwards, Waitakere Shared Vision spokeswoman, Elaine Underwood, said that the summit proved that there is indeed a local, regional and national ‘shared vision’ for mental health.

”It became clear today that there is awareness, at both national and regional levels, of the un-met gaps in services and the challenges that still exist,” she said.

“We are confident that the changes being introduced will result in a quality, comprehensive mental health service in Waitakere in the future.”

Waitakere City Councillor Penny Hulse, who facilitated the meeting, says it was useful to have decision-makers from all levels in one room to listen to community concerns and hopes the outcome will mean improved mental health service delivery in Waitakere.

“We have made it clear to the Minister that equitable funding for the Auckland District health boards is absolutely crucial and we hope she has taken this on board, “ she says.

“Accurately predicting future mental health needs is also vital to defining what constitutes adequate resources.

“Twenty percent of people, at some point in their life, are going to need some sort of mental health support but, at present, we are only funded to cover 3% of the population nationwide. That is clearly already not enough. When you take into account the likely effect of methamphetamine (or ‘P’), for example, that 20% is only going to grow.”

A wide variety of mental health issues were raised at the summit, some of which included how the development of more regional health services will impact on local groups established to have input into mental health planning, the need for equitable funding of all health boards in the Auckland region, resource allocation for improved collaboration among all providers, future mental health needs for an ageing population and the effects of increasing methamphetamine use on mental health services.

Cr Hulse paid tribute to Waitakere Shared Vision saying it was held in high regard by the Ministry and will continue to play an important role as a mental health advocate in the City.


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