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An opportunity to lift the wellbeing of all New Zealanders

12 June 2019

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has welcomed the promise by the New Zealand Government of an independent commission to oversee mental health and addiction services.

Dr Mark Lawrence, Chair of the New Zealand National Committee, Tu Te Akaaka Roa, supports the government’s response to the recommendations from the final report, He Ara Oranga, of the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry.

‘The RANZCP tautako the wellbeing focus reflected in the government’s responses and is fully committed to being part of the solution’, Dr Lawrence said.

‘We anticipate that the commission will provide the mental health and addiction sector with valuable leadership, as well as planning and data collection services critical to evidence-informed best practice. We strongly advocate that the commission ensures Māori wellbeing and leadership are prioritised within the sector.

‘It is pleasing to see a person-centred approach reflected throughout the response and that there will be a national mental health survey and health-based approach to reducing the harm caused by drugs and alcohol’.

The RANZCP is pleased the government acknowledges that matching services to people’s level of need is paramount.

Dr Susanna Every-Palmer, Deputy Chair of the RANZCP New Zealand National Committee, Tu Te Akaaka Roa, said: ‘It is important that we don’t forget the 5% – those with serious mental illnesses who are among the most vulnerable.

‘Sustained resourcing and support must be directed to people living with complex mental health and addiction needs, including people within forensic services; those living with dementia; young people and children living with complex psycho-social issues; women needing maternal mental health support; people with ongoing substance misuse issues; those living with personality disorders and/or psychosis; and people with both a mental and physical chronic condition.

‘Developing an appropriate workforce is central, so it’s encouraging that government plans include bold funding and a long-term commitment to this far-reaching issue.

‘It’s crucial to gather New Zealand evidence to determine what services and supports are relevant and work for New Zealanders, especially Māori.

‘We already have some good evidence and we anticipate this will now be drawn together by the commission to provide value-for-money solutions to mental health issues. We call on the government to look at the evidence.’

Dr Lawrence concluded by saying that the $1.9 billion for mental health announced in the Wellbeing Budget 2019 will help front-line services immensely.

‘However, the RANZCP has previously signalled that transforming mental health and addiction services will only work when meaningful partnerships and co-ordinated approaches are implemented across the entire sector.’

‘Let’s work together’, said Dr Lawrence, ‘We now have a chance to lift the wellbeing of all New Zealanders’.

For all expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.


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