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Families Meeting The Challenges Of Mental Illness

1 September 2008 Press Release
Families Meeting The Challenges Of Mental Illness

Schizophrenia Fellowship New Zealand (SFNZ) is New Zealand’s largest Not-for-Profit organisation in the mental health sector that supports the families of those experiencing a mental illness.

SFNZ is hosting a Summit on 5-7 September in Wellington at the Duxton Hotel which will be officially opened by the Government General. The theme of the Summit, ‘Families – Meeting the Challenges of Mental Illness’ reflects the important role that families often play in the recovery process – a role that often goes unacknowledged or is overlooked.

One in five New Zealanders report being diagnosed with a mental illness in any one year, rising to two in five when reporting diagnosis at some point during their lives. Thousands of New Zealanders with a mental illness rely heavily on the care of others to have quality of life.

“The Government’s policy of moving mental health care away from hospitals & institutions, and into the community has resulted in families picking up more and more of the burden of mental health care” says SFNZ Chief Executive Florence Leota.

“Our experience in working with families shows that families are in desperate need of support, resources and information so that they can cope with the challenges they face on a daily basis.

“There are gaps in our current health system, and our families are falling through them. Many families have serious difficulties in navigating a health system that doesn’t always recognise their role. Additionally, trying to get access to information or get support to deal with challenging situations, or even your day to day issues, can be a nightmare!

“Families and carers are experiencing emotional distress, emotional exhaustion, burn-out and at its worst, depression, addictions and/ or chronic illness’ said Florence Leota

SFNZ believes that key players in the mental health sector need to collectively engage better to achieve a health system that works for everyone, especially the service user.

“Families desperately need support and the purpose of the Summit is to provide that support by bringing together all the key stakeholders under one roof to share, learn, educate, inform and network with each other” concluded Florence Leota.

Over 50% of the delegates are families, with the remaining delegates being clinicians, service providers, DHB’s, government departments and mental health sector workers.

Summit Highlights Include:
• Over 20 workshops (Sat-Sun 6/7 Sept);
• International keynote speakers Dr Xavier Amador & Dr Margaret Leggatt;
• Election year political forum with spokespeople from key political parties stating the benefits of their mental health policies (Sunday 6 Sept);
• American writer/director Joseph Greco will attend a special viewing of his film ‘Canvas’ and participate in a panel discussion on the issues for children of parents with a mental illness (Friday 5 Sept).


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