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World’s mental health leaders converge on New Zealand

World’s mental health leaders converge on New Zealand

More than 300 mental health and disability leaders from seven countries will meet in New Zealand on 6 -8 March to share best practice ideas for improving mental health and disability service care around the world.

The leaders are meeting as part of the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) network gathering themed, Innovation across the lifespan: What does it take to make an impact?

The IIMHL is a government-to-government funded initiative with seven member countries, of which New Zealand is a founding member. The aim is to coordinate learning exchanges between mental health and addiction leaders from member countries. Robyn Shearer, chief executive of Te Pou, a New Zealand-based mental health and disability workforce development agency, said the meeting was an opportunity not only for New Zealand to learn from the world’s foremost experts in mental health innovation, but to also share the country’s own best practice

“All of us working in the mental health and disability field agree there is a lot of work still to be done, but New Zealand is at the forefront of some international innovations in care. For example, other countries are looking at our work in outcomes measures and workforce development, particularly in areas of cultural competency and having a consistent national plan for increasing the capacity and capability of our workforce,” said Ms Shearer.

The Hon Peter Dunne and Hon Tariana Turia will speak at the meeting along with some of the world’s leading mental health experts such as:

· Louise Bradley, who helped develop Canada’s National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace - the first of its kind in the world.

· Other international experts visiting New Zealand as part of the exchange include:
Ken Jue, an international expert on physical and mental health, and developer of the award winning programme inSHAPE; and Bruce Kamradt, an international expert in child and youth mental health wrap-a-round services.

IIMHL president Fran Silvestri said the quality of mental health services depended on many factors, such as policies, adequate funding and leadership.

“Ultimately it’s people who are the heart of all services, and exchanges such as the IIMHL leaders meeting are where ideas have occurred for creating positive changes to improve mental health service delivery. For example, the US Congress has proposed a bill to make a unique IIMHL-facilitated programme, called Mental Health First Aid, available nationally.”

The countries represented by their leaders at the IIMHL meeting include USA, England, New Zealand, Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Canada and Australia.


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