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SMC Bulletin - Mental Health, Addiction report

Mental Health, Addiction report
The Government has released the report from the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry.

The Inquiry began work in February and its work included extensive public consultation. The final report, He Ara Oranga, made 40 recommendations including expanding access to publicly-funded services, establishing a Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, setting a target to reduce suicide rates by 20 per cent by 2030 and removing criminal sanctions on the possession of drugs for personal use.

Victoria University of Wellington senior lecturer Dr Fiona Hutton commended the inquiry for its thorough approach to mental health, including the focus on issues related to addiction.

"Many of those struggling with addiction are also struggling with mental health issues, which are in turn exacerbated by other social and cultural factors such as poverty and disadvantage. The way we currently respond to those with addiction issues often intensifies the problems related to addiction and mental health."

Massey University's Professor Sally Casswell applauded the inquiry highlighting the role of alcohol in mental health.

"There have been clear recommendations from the Law Commission in 2010 and all that has been lacking is political will to put these into effect." She said the inquiry had heard submissions on the harm linked to "the number of liquor outlets, their proximity to schools and location in poorer communities, and the need for restriction on advertising and sponsorship".

AUT Professor of Criminal Law and Justice Studies Warren Brookbanks said the inquiry's recommendation to repeal the current Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment & Treatment) Act 1992 was consistent with other jurisdictions reflecting the growing human rights focus of international documents.

"However, given the lengthy gestation period that accompanied the enactment of the 1992 statute, it would be naive to think that such a radical change could be effected speedily and in the absence of further widespread consultation and debate."

“But in the final analysis, what is sought and recommended in the Report is a collective and enduring commitment to improved mental health and wellbeing in New Zealand.”

The SMC gathered expert reaction to the inquiry's report.

Quoted: Newsroom
"Absence of disease is a difficult product to sell. The better you do, the less visible it is.

"We have many international examples of high immunisation coverage leading to disease becoming less visible, populations then losing the demand for the vaccine, rates dropping off, disease returning and then the community demanding the vaccine again."
University of Auckland Associate Professor Nikki Turner onbarriers to successful immunisation programmes.

Climate reports warn of risks
Several climate reports released this week have warned that emissions are rising and pose a threat to security and equity.

On Thursday, new data published in Environmental Research Letters indicated that global carbon emissions from fossil fuels had risen sharply again, with a predicted 2 per cent jump in emissions in 2018.

Niwa atmosphere-ocean scientist Dr Sara Mikaloff-Fletcher told Stuff that the world needed to reduce emissions aggressively if there was a chance to keep warming below 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures.

"The fact we're still seeing this mismatch between the promised reductions and what's actually happening, actual economic policy, is a big worry for me as a climate scientist."

The current rise following a flat period between 2014 and 2016, which was "really hopeful". "It was the first time where people's choices and intentions to reduce emissions were being seen in the global (carbon) budget, as opposed to people responding to economic pressure," Dr Mikaloff-Flecther said.

"That was very exciting. Now we're seeing a return to a trajectory of increased emissions, that's largely driven by Asia essentially."

Also on Thursday, the Deep South National Science Challenge published a report by University of Otago Associate Professor Lisa Ellis that questioned the ethics behind who will bear the risks of sea level rise and how these risks can be shared more fairly.

Dr Ellis warned that coastal property owners were being incentivised to invest in areas that might one day be a flood zone, which would become even more perverse if decisions were made about what communities to defend from sea level rise based on property value.

"The rich will get seawalls while the poor get moved. That doesn't embody who we are as people."

The Ministry of Defence and the Defence Force also released a joint report calling climate change one of the "most significant security threats of our time".

Drawn from eight months of discussions with officials from across the Pacific and academics, the report highlighted water shortages, food insecurity, impacts on public health and climate migration as climate-related impacts likely to heighten security challenges across the region.

The report recommends the military should prepare for an increasing strain from a greater number of humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations.

Upcoming SAVVY workshops
Our flagship media training course returns in 2019 - with the first two-day workshop of the year in Christchurch.
Further 2019 workshops will be confirmed at a later date, but we're taking applications for Christchurch now, and it would be a good idea to apply before Christmas:
7-8 February

Our experienced facilitators provide a supportive environment for researchers to consider their work from different perspectives and find new ways to describe the value of their research to the public.

Ideally suited for researchers with previous media experience seeking further development of their skills, as well as beginners anticipating media interest in their work.

Applications close 10 January

Policy news & developments

Retail fuel study: The Commerce Commission's first market study will investigate the retail fuel market.

Rare plover chicks: Seven critically endangered shore plover chicks have hatched on Motutapu - there are only 235 birds remaining.

Biological emissions: The Biological Emissions Reference Group has reported back on two years of research into reducing biological emissions from primary industries.

Glacier access: DOC will begin work to reinstate valley floor access to Fox Glacier.

Green investment: A $100 million fund will aim to reduce New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions through Green Investment Finance Ltd.

This week on the NZ Conversation.

The double juggle: how working parents manage school holidays and their jobs
Candice Harris, Jarrod Haar, Auckland University of Technology

Remembering Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into the theatre of war
James H. Liu, Massey University

Woke washing: what happens when marketing communications don’t match corporate practice
Jessica Vredenburg, Auckland University of Technology, Amanda Spry, RMIT University, Joya Kemper, University of Auckland, Sommer Kapitan, Auckland University of Technology

NZ is home to species found nowhere else but biodiversity losses match global crisis
Robert McLachlan, Steven Alexander Trewick, Massey University

See more NZ-authored Conversation articles.

What we've been reading
With an abundance of news stories to possibly read, watch and listen to, it can be hard to find the gems. Here we highlight some of the stories that caught our attention this week.
Mike King's confronting, candid and hopeful advice to Kiwi teens
In its final show of the year, The Hui followed comedian-turned-advocate Mike King to Whanganui City College where he talked about self-esteem, bullying, addition and taming the inner critic.

The basics of a proposed legal death: a guide to the End of Life Choice bill
As the select committee considering the End of Life Choice Bill returns from the largest-ever parliamentary tour, Stuff has been running a series of stories considering the arguments for, and the stories surrounding, the Bill.

How exposure to LED lights harms animals as well as humans
Following last month's release of the Royal Society Te Apārangi report on blue light, Peter Griffin investigated the issues for The Listener.

Into the ice world: Why we should all care about Antarctica
NZ Herald science reporter Jamie Morton will head back down to the ice this summer - he writes about why we should care about Antarctica.

The CRISPR Baby Scandal Gets Worse by the Day
More news keeps coming to light about He Jiankui's claim that he used CRISPR gene editing on human embryos, resulting in the birth of twin girls. The Atlantic's Ed Yong details why the case is so concerning.

The Search for Alien Life Begins in Earth’s Oldest Desert
Rebecca Boyle, writing for The Atlantic, joins astrobiologist Mary Beth Wilhelm in the Atacama Desert on a mission to learn what signs life might leave behind on alien planets.

New from Sciblogs - NZ's science blog network

Some of the highlights from this week's Sciblogs posts:

How To Make Friends And Influence People (By Being A Great Session Chair)

Conference season is here again, and in many instances that means sessions that go well over their allotted time. Lucy Stewart offers advice on how to be a good conference session chair.
Guest Work

Teachers’ reactions to this year’s Year 13 Bio exam

Teachers have been voicing their concerns about the Year 13 Biology exam students sat last week.

Genome-edited babies – what’s the worry?

The story of the supposed gene-edited babies in China continues. Grant Jacobs offers an update on some of the concerns.
Code for Life

The sad state of science learning in primary school

While most primary-aged children like learning about science at school, new figures show that only 20 per cent of Year 8 students last year reached the expected level of achievement in science.

Upcoming events

Please see the SMC Events Calendar for more events and details.
Precrastination: 10 December, Dunedin. Everyone knows about procrastination, but Edward Wasserman will discuss another phenomenon - completing tasks quickly just to get them done sooner.

Forage genetics: 10 December, Dunedin. Marcelo Carena will discuss AgResearch work developing climate change tolerant forage cultivars.

Research impact conundrum: 10 December, Hamilton. Martina Battisti will discuss developing a research culture that fosters non-academic benefits of research.

Experience of harm: 10 December, Wellington. Zoë James will set out how research can explain and illuminate the hate harms experienced by Gypsies and Travellers in the UK.

Artificial Intelligence: 11-14 December, Wellington. The 31st Australasian Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence will include sessions on data mining, neural networks and big data.

Smart decarceration: 11 December, Wellington. The Labour-led Government has committed to reducing the prison population by 30 per cent in 15 years, how could this be achieved?

Nuclear arms: 11 December, Christchurch. Zia Mann will present on nuclear arms control and nonproliferation.

Death and dying: 11 December, Christchurch. We all will die, but we don't talk about it very much - this panel will buck that trend.

Reducing suicide: 11 December, Auckland. Helen Christensen will discuss suicide reduction initiatives in Australia.

One Health: 12-13 December, Wellington. The One Health Aotearoa Symposium will include sessions on antimicrobial resistance and emerging infectious diseases.

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