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Mental Health Commission Given New Lease of Life


The life of the Mental Health Commission will be extended to ensure the mental
health strategy is put in place, Health Minister Annette King announced today.

Originally established as a Ministerial advisory committee in 1996, the group was expected to have finished its work when the Mental Health Commission Act of 1998 expires at the end of August, 2001, in line with the expected date for implementation of the Mason Inquiry recommendations.

However the Commission is to be extended to ensure full implementation of the
New Zealand Mental Health Strategy planned for 2004 - 10 years from its initiation in 1994.

Mrs King said she was delighted that her Government was responding to the challenge of putting health back into the mental health sector.

"The first demonstration of this commitment is our decision to extend the life of the Mental Health Commission," she said.

"The Mental Health Commission has played a valuable role in the mental health area. It keeps the key players honest through its monitoring role, has provided strong advocacy and guidance on the type and volume of services needed to implement the national mental health strategy and, with other agencies, has played key roles in addressing the discrimination faced by people with mental illness.

"A significant start has been made to the substantial job needed to provide more and better mental health services," Mrs King said.

However, Mrs King said she was aware of concern of those working in mental health that progress may stall with the last instalment of Mason funding due later this year.

"Late last year, I asked the Mental Health Commission for advice on the funding required to fully implement its Blueprint. When the Commission's advice has been analysed I expect to be making a bid for additional funding through the Budget process.


"The new lease on the Commission's life is not open ended. The actual date when the Commission will close its doors has yet to be decided, but this decision will allow the Commission to continue its invaluable work."

ENDS


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