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13 reasons why we need an independent Mental Health Inquiry

13 reasons why we need an independent Mental Health Inquiry in New Zealand.

Written by Corinda Taylor, bereaved mother of Ross Taylor.

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Some people have said that they know exactly what is wrong with the system.They think that a national inquiry into mental health will be waste of time and money. I truly disagree. If they knew what was wrong they would have fixed it by now. Nobody has paid any attention to the pleas from people who cannot access help.

They do not have a clue and all their brouhaha and protesting will bring us no closer to saving lives.

Trying to navigate the mental health system is hard if not impossible for some. There needs to be accountability and measures put into place so good systems are implemented.

Here are 13 reasons why we need an independent and thorough inquiry into mental health services in NZ.

1. We have one of the highest rates of youth suicide in the OECD.

2. Alcohol is the major factor in youth suicide. Why have we not applied the same vigorous rules that we did to stamp out smoking?

3. The Office of the Auditor-General estimates that in each death the combined loss of an individual’s contribution to society, the economy and an individual’s family amounted to $3.4 million. The economic cost alone was put at $600,000.

4. Frustration is profound because the level of needs is an extreme mismatch with services available. Increased asking for help from services are resulting in increased suicides because people feel let down when services reject them due to lack of beds and staff.

5. People feel abused, rejected, ignored, dismissed and failed by the mental health system.

6. Coercion, restraint, seclusion and isolation are causing people untold psychological damage. This needs to be looked at in a Royal commission of inquiry. We hear the stories daily now. People are often threatened with medication, seclusion, intimidation or forced to obtain compliance. Is this due to staff shortage?

7. Key frontline staff still do not receive standardised training for suicide prevention and many are unable to recognise suicidal intent. Rather they prefer to write on file that the person is not suicidal as that way they cannot be held accountable.

8. There is a lack of follow-up after attempts and no support for families to help their loved ones.

9. There is no support for families after a suicide. Postvention support by the government and DHBs are non-existent.

10. There is no legal support for broken families trying to survive the aftermath and to make complaints about the system.

11. Some DHBs are still writing their mental health medical file by hand. In a discipline where reviewing the clinical history in a crisis situation is of utmost importance it beggars belief that in 2017 we still have archaic systems that are failing our people.

12. The public has lost faith in the system.

13. Kiwis are dying in record numbers.

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