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National Mental Health Conference

Recovering from a Mental Illness - National Mental Health Conference

Over 400 people are attending the Realising Recovery: New Zealand Mental Health Sector Best Practice Conference in Wellington, 29 November - 1 December. The main themes of the conference are:
 the central role people who use mental health services must have in service planning and delivery if services are to be effective
 to recover from a mental illness a person must have the opportunity to take control of their life, with the support of family and services, and
 the many and varied pathways of support services are providing to assist people to recover.

The conference, jointly sponsored by the Mental Health Commission, the Ministry of Health and the Health Funding Authority (HFA), begins with the Rt Hon David Lange launching A Gift of Stories: Discovering how to deal with mental illness, published by the Commission and University of Otago Press . This is a book of personal stories from New Zealanders from all walks of life who have had experience of mental illness.

The book has been produced as part of the work of the Mental Health Commission’s Anti Discrimination Action Plan Team. Commissioner Dr Julie Leibrich, who gathered the stories, said, “The Commission hopes that it will be a powerful resource - a source of inspiration for people with a mental illness and those who are close to them, a special teaching tool for people who work in the mental health area and a way of opening doors on mental illness and letting some light in, for all of us.”

The Government’s National Mental Health Strategy, the Commission’s Blueprint for Mental Health Services: how things need to be, the HFA’s National Mental Health Funding Plan emphasise the need to improve responsiveness of mental health services to consumers. Mental Health Commission Chair Dr Barbara Disley said, “This can only be achieved if consumers are listened to, by increasing their participation in all aspects of service planning, funding, delivery and monitoring.”

The people who contributed to the book will be speaking at the launch which will be followed by a consumer-run session on recovery.

Dr Barbara Disley said, “Service users have a great deal to contribute to the development of the mental health sector. At this conference, as well as running sessions, people who have used services will be jointly presenting some sessions with mental health professionals. We had a fantastic response to our call for papers, with people keen to share their successful programmes and ideas. When you gather all of these people together in one place you realise that we have a lot of very dedicated, talented, creative and innovative people in the mental health sector. This conference is important because it enables people to share with others what is good, what is working for them.”

Kath Fox, HFA General Manager for Mental Health Services said, “We hope this conference will make a difference in the priority areas in the mental health sector like workforce development, services for Maori, child and youth and Pacific people. It is also important that this joint venture conference between the Ministry, the Mental Health Commission and the HFA does contribute to improved outcomes for consumers.”

Over 150 speakers will cover 80 conference sessions on diverse topics. Barbara Disley said the conference is a celebration of the emerging holistic approach to recovery from mental illness. She said, “Recovery involves a lot more than medication; it is about finding ways to provide an environment where a person has their clinical needs met alongside other needs like housing, work, income, social support and having the opportunity to pursue individual interests.”


Conference sessions cover: drug and alcohol, children and young people, Maori, Pacific people, workforce development, best practice for mental health nurses, early intervention, consumer-driven services, family recovery, links between agencies, leadership in the mental health sector, clinical and management processes, research, consumer rights, rural mental health, spirituality, complementary therapies and individual consumers’ roads to recovery, borderline personality disorder and others.

The Ministry of Health’s role in the mental health sector is to identify and advise on ways to improve the mental health and independence of New Zealanders. It also monitors the HFA’s performance as funder of treatment services for those affected by mental illness. The Ministry also ensures the safety of those services and protects patient and public rights through its responsibilities under the Mental Health Act and the Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Act.

The HFA’s role in mental health is to fund services. It analyses what services are needed, develops local, regional and national funding plans and contracts with organisations and agencies to provide the services. The HFA also monitors and evaluates the services it funds.
Funding for mental health services is focused on the 3 percent of the population who experience serious mental illness.

The Mental Health Commission’s role is to ensure that mental health services and the mental health workforce are developed so that a range of services are provided by the right combination of people responding appropriately to the needs of all those affected by mental illness. This is the goal of Government’s National Mental Health Strategy.

Contacts: Mental Health Commission, Tessa Castree, 04 474 8919, 025 249 2405
HFA, Gerard Vaughan 04 495 4424, 025 40 29 65
Ministry of Health, Peter Abernethy, 04 496 2008, 025 477 036

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