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Mental Health Sufferers Deserve An Apology Too

Media Release

Mental Health Sufferers Deserve An Apology Too

Nga Hau E Wha – the national alliance of New Zealand’s four regional mental health service-user networks issued this statement at its meeting in Wellington 28-29 May 2008

Nga Hau E Wha wishes to congratulate the Prime Minister for her courage in yesterday making a formal apology to the Vietnam Veterans over the shabby treatment they received on their return from active service and the refusal of successive governments to acknowledge the severe health consequences they and their families have endured that resulted from their experience.

We appreciate Ms Clark’s sincere acknowledgement of the hurt and humiliation that these brave men and women endured during and after their service to our country. At the same time we would like to remind the government that former inmates of psychiatric institutions also endured years of humiliation and abuse over many years up until 1992 when the introduction of the mental health act began to protect their rights. Many distressing stories were related by more than 400 of the former patients to the government’s own Confidential Forum which reported back to parliament in June 2007.

The damning report concluded with the statement that: “ the hope of many who came to the Forum was that the Government would give a public acknowledgment (or) apology, showing that they understood that many former in-patients of psychiatric hospitals had had experiences that were deeply humiliating and demeaning, often taking a lifelong toll. Many who spoke of this said that a public acknowledgment (and/or) apology would make them feel valued and accepted in a way that was very important for them, often saying that such recognition of their experiences would help bring closure.”

Nga Hau E Wha would like to remind the government that its deafening silence in the 12 months since it received the report serves only to exacerbate the sense of pain and rejection that the brave people who opened up to the forum, not to mention many hundreds - perhaps thousands more of their colleagues still endure.


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