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New Roles for Mental Health Commission

6 December 2006

New Roles for Mental Health Commission

A new bill extending the life of the Mental Health Commission by eight years has been introduced to the House by Health Minister Pete Hodgson.

This will allow the Commission to support the implementation of the second Mental Health Strategy, which runs through to 2015.

The Mental Health Commission Amendment Bill retains the Commission and provides it with some important new functions, including advocating for the interests of people with mental illness and their families generally.

The Mental Health Commission's term was to have expired in August 2007, but an amendment to legislation extending that deadline to 2015 will now be considered by the Health Select Committee.

"The Commission has made a major contribution to the mental health sector over the last ten years but there is still more work to be done," says Dr Janice Wilson, Deputy Director General of Mental Health.

The decision to extend the Commission's term comes after consultation with key stakeholders, who supported the organisation as an important vehicle for raising serious issues and encouraging public debate.

Janice Wilson says, "one of the Commission's key contributions has been expressing the needs and wishes of mental health service users."

Some of the Commission's functions will be revised to build on these strengths and ensure it is well placed to support the mental health sector as it faces new challenges in the coming years.

The functions include advocacy for the interests of people with mental illness and their families generally, fostering collaboration and dialogue about mental health issues, working independently and with others on destigmatising mental illness as well as stimulating and undertaking research.

"The Ministry of Health is excited by the prospect of an ongoing contribution by the Mental Health Commission,"said Dr Wilson.

The Mental Health Commission was established in September 1996 in response to the recommendations of the Mason Inquiry into Mental Health Services that year.

One of the Commission's main achievements has been developing its Blueprint for Mental Health Services, a plan which sets targets for resourcing and services for mental health consumers.

ENDS

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