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Mental Health Commission Has Head In The Sand


Mental Health Commission Has Head In The Sand Over Commissioner Appointments

The mental health sector, including people with lived experience of mental illness, are disappointed in the ‘head in the sand’ reassurances from Mental Health Commission’s General Manager, Dr Selwyn Katene. In response to protests about the government’s decision not to appoint a person with lived experience as one of the new commissioners, he said, ‘the Commission fully understands the importance of a service user perspective’.

Mental health service users disagree. ‘The Mental Health Commission has not engaged with service users in a satisfactory way for some time, and its reputation in the mental health sector is at an all time low’, said Karyn Walker, manager of the service user network, Central Potential. ‘The government’s decision not to appoint a service user commissioner has just added insult to injury. It’s like appointing a man to run the Department of Women’s Affairs’, she said in Wellington today. One of the Mental Health Commission’s new terms of reference is to advocate the interests of service users and their families.

‘The Mental Health Commission once championed innovation, service user concerns and the recovery approach. It had an international reputation.’ Walker said. ‘It has now faded into irrelevancy, and in the absence of a service user commissioner, the Commission is at risk of losing its last shred of credibility’, Walker said.

‘The only way out of this unfortunate situation is for the new commissioners to sit down with service user leaders to discuss how the Mental Health Commission can redesign its structure and processes to compensate for this poor decision made by government.’


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