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Commission Welcomes Review

25 September 2008

Commission Welcomes Review

The Mental Health Commission welcomes the results of an external review into the mental health services provided by Waitemata District Health Board to Auckland teenager Toran Henry, who died earlier this year.

“The Commission is very concerned when anything goes wrong for young people and their families using mental health services,” says Chair Commissioner Dr Peter McGeorge, who is a child, adolescent and general psychiatrist.

“Reviews of this nature, while indicating improvements may need to be made in the way services are delivered, can if responded to promptly help reduce systems errors and improve the quality of service delivery in the future.

“We want to pass on our full sympathies to Toran Henry’s mother and family as they deal with their tragic loss.”

Dr McGeorge says the review findings have given the Waitemata Distict Health Board a number of matters to reflect on.

He notes that the DHB accepts the need to make some systemic and process improvements, and that that work has already begun.

“This review is specific to the Waitemata DHB and it’s not possible to extrapolate its conclusions and recommendations to the country’s 20 other DHBs,” he says.

“Throughout New Zealand on any given day, many hundreds of people experiencing severe mental illness receive the treatment and care they need, without incident. That’s particularly remarkable given the increasing pressure on mental health services for children and young people. Nevertheless young people aged 16 to 24 are far more likely than other age groups to experience mental health problems and there is a need to ensure that services for them are well resourced and of the highest quality.”

The Commission hosted a youth mental health forum of experts and community leaders in Auckland in June to identify gaps in existing services, and to look for possible solutions. It is also looking into a number of issues that would have an impact on young people, including the use of peer support services, integrated treatment for coexisting disorders, and the roles for families when young people use mental health services.


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Background about the Mental Health Commission:

The Mental Health Commission was established in 1998 as a crown entity providing independent advice to the Government following the Mason Inquiry into Mental Health Services.

The Commission’s functions as defined by the Mental Health Commission Amendment Act 2007 are to:

- advocate for the interests of people with mental illness and their families generally (rather than for individuals or groups), while taking into account the interests of other stakeholders;

- promote and facilitate collaboration and communication about mental health issues;

- work independently and with others to promote better understanding of mental illness by the community, reduce the stigma and prejudice associated with mental illness, and to eliminate inappropriate discrimination on the grounds of mental illness;

- monitor, and to report to and advise the Minister on the implementation of the national mental health strategy;

- stimulate and support the development of integrated and effective methods or systems of providing care;

- stimulate and to do research into any matter relevant to mental illness.

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