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New national mental health and addiction plan

Input invited on new national mental health and addiction plan

A draft plan which will provide a future focus for mental health services in New Zealand over the next 10 years has begun public consultation this week.

Improving Mental Health: The Draft Second National Mental Health and Addiction Planwill be the focus of 24 meetings, hui and fono throughout the country during September and October to gain input from the mental health sector including consumers, family, funders, providers and other interested parties which can be used to further develop the plan. Submissions can also be made through the online submission form on the Ministry of Health website ( or in written form.

The Ministry of Health welcomes feedback on the draft document.

"I do hope you will take the opportunity to read this draft plan and let us know what you think," said Deputy Director General Mental Health, Dr Janice Wilson.

The Government is committed to investment in mental health and a vision of good mental health for all New Zealanders. Over the next four years, the Government will put an extra $250 million into implementing the Mental Health Commission's Blueprint picking up from the four year allocation of $257 million it made in 2000-01.

"I encourage people across the mental health sector to contribute to the development of the plan and the future direction of mental health services by making a submission and attending a public meeting," said Dr Wilson.

The new plan builds on the key directions and priorities of the National Mental Health Strategy's earlier Looking Forward(1994)and Moving Forward(1997) modernising them to take account of major changes to the health sector. These have included the establishment of 21 District Health Boards, and the development of Primary Health Organisations nationwide.

"The scope of Improving Mental Health is wide and covers the spectrum of interventions from prevention/promotion to primary care, to specialist services," she said. "It sets out a vision, goals and principles for mental health services from 2005 until 2015 and addresses the needs of one in five New Zealanders reported to have a mental illness."

The draft plan identifies seven strategic directions, objectives and actions for the next five to ten years.

The broad strategic directions include:

more and better specialist services for those most severely affected by mental illness

more and better services for Maori, who continue to enter mental health services at a higher rate than other population groups

more responsive services which recognise the needs of culturally and ethnically diverse groups

information and workforce systems development

targeting mental health issues through primary health care

mental health promotion and prevention

removing social and economic barriers to recovery

Issues surrounding alcohol and other drugs are made more explicit in this draft plan, and problem gambling is included for the first time. From 1 July 2004, the Ministry of Health became responsible for the funding and coordination of problem gambling services. These services are funded from a separate problem gambling levy imposed on the profits of different gambling sectors.

"This plan provides for a whole-of-government approach to mental health," said Dr Wilson. "Many of the broad social and economic determinants that impact on mental health and wellbeing lie outside the health sector. While Improving Mental Health does not set objectives or actions for other government agencies, it does identify where other policy and programmes can have a positive effect on mental health and recovery."

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