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Mental health and addiction faces four challenges

26 April 2019

Mental health and addiction faces four challenges

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ (RANZCP) New Zealand National Committee – Tu Te Akaaka Roa – tautoko the key principles in the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry’s report, He Ara Oranga, but identified four high-level priority areas not yet given sufficient attention.

‘We are fully on side and working with the Ministry of Health to address current challenges in the mental health and addiction system, to advance the objectives of the Inquiry, and to improve the quality of patient outcomes and experience,’ said the New Zealand National Committee Chair, Dr Mark Lawrence.

‘Key to all these goals however, is directing resources to those that need them, meaningfully addressing the mental health and addiction workforce shortages, and focusing on what’s proven: the partnerships that work and the initiatives that work.’

Deputy Chair of the New Zealand National Committee, Dr Susanna Every-Palmer, added: ‘We are also committed to supporting new models of care that focus on reducing inequities and encourage new ways of thinking.’

The RANZCP emphasises the need for work on the mental health and addiction system to progress in four key areas.

• ‘First, let’s work together,’ Dr Every-Palmer said. ‘If funders commit to resourcing models that facilitate co-design and co-production rather than inadvertently supporting silo behaviour, the sector can maximise their collective strengths. Long term funding is fundamental to long term planning, crucial to the kinds of evidence-informed approaches and alliances RANZCP supports.

• ‘Secondly, look at the evidence,’ she added. ‘When interventions are tested carefully, we can quickly learn from each other. Initiatives proven to be effective must be scaled-up and made available to more people who will benefit. Conversely, when approaches don’t work, it’s time to try something different.

• ‘Thirdly, don’t forget the 5%. The most vulnerable, those with serious mental illnesses, must still receive the intensive, integrated care they need,’ said Dr Every-Palmer. ‘We support the concept of broadening access to mental health and addiction services to include people with mild or moderate needs. Yet, there will be real challenges in making this happen until sector-wide workforce shortages are addressed.

• ‘Fourth, get the right people in the right places,’ Dr Every-Palmer concluded. ‘With increased funding to build a skilled, collaborative, and well-supported workforce, partnerships would flourish. Good examples are those modelled by Te Pou and Whānau Ora. RANZCP looks forward to fully engaging with those models and many others across the nation.’

For more information, see RANZCP’s Response to He Ara Oranga. For all other expert mental health information visit, Your Health in Mind the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.


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