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Web attacks on mental health workers unnecessary

September 18, 2008
For Immediate Use
Website attacks on mental health workers unnecessary, unfair and unhelpful

The Public Service Association says attacking individual mental health workers on a website is unnecessary, unfair and will not improve mental health services.

The PSA has 2400 members working as mental health and public health nurses and has continually opposed the idea of ‘naming and shaming’ public service workers.

Auckland-based counselor Steve Taylor has had to remove accusations about an individual mental health worker on his Psychwatch website because of a legal challenge from the Waitemata District Health Board and crown solicitors.

The health board believes the posting is defamatory, outside the bounds of fair comment and lacking in any factual basis.

“The fact that this first website attack on a mental health worker has had to be removed because of a legal challenge shows this practice is an unhelpful distraction for our mental health providers,” says Richard Wagstaff.

“We agree with the Mental Health Commission and the Health and Disability Commissioner that this type of ‘scapegoating’ is completely unnecessary as there are systems in place to deal with complaints about mental health workers.”

“Healthcare providers are finding it hard to recruit and retain mental health workers and subjecting them to trial by website will not help attract people to take on this difficult and demanding job,” says Richard Wagstaff.

Richard Wagstaff says Child Youth and Family social workers have suffered this type of attack on websites in the past.

“We have opposed this practice in the past and we oppose it now because it’s unfair, unnecessary and does not help improve the delivery of these essential public services,” says Richard Wagstaff.


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