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Community wellbeing manifesto at international seminar

Media release

Community wellbeing manifesto to be launched at Wellington international seminar

Wellington (14 November 2017). PeerZone is a social enterprise run by people with experience of mental distress. It is holding an international seminar to discuss mental health system change in Wellington on 22 November.

“New Zealand does not need a better mental health system, we need a radical new community wellbeing system”, according to Mary O’Hagan, a former mental health client and mental health commissioner, who is now Director of PeerZone.

A world leading line-up of international speakers will talk about humane community-centred responses to people with mental distress. New Zealand has not seen such a range of quality speakers on mental health innovation for over a decade.

PeerZone will also launch the Community Wellbeing Manifesto for the 21st Century at the seminar.

“Much of the commentary about our broken mental health system assumes we can fix it with more of the same”, said O’Hagan. “But a medically-centred system like ours is unsustainable. Even if we had enough clinical staff and beds to go around, the system will still get poor outcomes.”

The manifesto states that multiple sectors and communities need to at the hub of the system, rather than psychiatry. This will ensure that people with mental distress will be offered much more than ‘meds and beds’. They will have open access to well-funded peer support, self-management courses, support in education and employment, decent housing, cultural healing and talking therapies.

“Psychiatry has a place”, said O’Hagan. “But for far too long it has dominated the thinking and taken most of the resources. This has led to a narrow range of expensive treatments, that on their own, have delivered poor health and life outcomes.”

“There has been no accountability for these poor outcomes”, said O’Hagan. “If the mental health system had been a private enterprise the customers would have left it to go broke nearly 200 years ago.”

PeerZone will advocate vigorously for the new manifesto in collaboration with mental health clients and progressive allies. “New Zealand has made some progress, but it has stalled over the last decade. The new government needs to hear our voice and heed our vision”, said O’Hagan.


About PeerZone

PeerZone is a Wellington based social enterprise that develops supports and resources for people with mental distress. The agency is run by people who have used mental health services.

About the seminar

Click here for more information on the peer-led paradigm shift seminar. It is open to the media.

The seminar speakers

Psychiatrist Allister Bush and cultural healer Wiremu NiaNia will talk about their book: ‘Collaborative and Indigenous Mental Health Therapy: Tataihono - Stories of Maori Healing & Psychiatry’.

Steve Morgan from the USA will talk about Intentional Peer Support a powerful framework for creating peer support relationships where both people learn and grow together.


Flick Grey from Australia will speak on Open Dialogue a Finnish approach that has vastly improved outcomes where treatment is carried out through meetings that actively involve the person and their family and social network.

Jenny Speed from Australia will talk on Emotional CPR, an American educational program designed to teach people to assist others through an emotional crisis

Adrienne Giacon from New Zealand will talk about hearing voices networks where peers support each other to understand and manage their voices.


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