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Mental Health Awareness Week: New Study Announced

Families Commission announces new study during Mental Health Awareness Week

Media release

9 October 2006

The Families Commission is funding a new study that examines the best way for mental health services to meet the needs of families who are caring for someone with a mental illness.

Mental Health Awareness Week begins today and Families Commission Chief Commissioner Rajen Prasad says many families have raised concerns with Commissioners about the level of support, information and assistance given to families by mental health services.

“It’s very clear that families need to be involved in some aspects of treatment and care so that they can provide the support their family member needs. But families themselves also need to be well-informed and feel that they are being supported by the mental health services.”

He said, the Families Commission has an ongoing interest in learning more about families’ experiences in supporting someone with a mental illness so the information can be used to benefit all such families.

The study, Family pathways to care and support in Nelson-Marlborough mental health services is being undertaken by mental health nurse consultant Lois Boyd and is being funded by the Families Commission Innovative Practice Fund. She is looking specifically at the experience of families in the Nelson-Marlborough region and the study is expected to be completed within two years.

Ms Boyd says in recent years there’s been a growing emphasis on the needs of families who are caring for a mentally ill family member. However, there is no clear pathway document that defines the access, types of service, and levels of service that family members can reasonably expect of mental health services.

“I’m hoping that my study will help inform the design of such a pathway,” she said.

Chair of the Mental Health Commission Ruth Harrison says “This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme is around acceptance and a sense of belonging. Family/whānau and being connected to our communities are pivotal to our happiness and mental wellbeing.”

“Families/whānau can play a very important role in providing ongoing support to people experiencing mental illness.

“It must also be recognised that not everyone is close to their families and some choose not to involve families closely in their lives. It’s also important to have a wide definition of where family/whānau support might come from – for some the concept of family may include friends and other support networks, not just blood connections.”

“This study will help inform us about the role families/whānau can play in mental health services,” said Ms Harrison.


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