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Mental Health Commissioner Appointed

Health Minister Annette King says she is delighted to announce the appointment of Mary O'Hagan as a Mental Health Commissioner.

Ms O'Hagan will replace Dr Julie Leibrich, who resigned from the commission in May and finished her duties as a commissioner in July.

Mrs King said Ms O'Hagan has been involved in mental health and disability issues as a consumer and as a consultant. "She has extensive experience in the mental health sector, particularly in senior management in consumer organisations."

Ms O'Hagan was appointed chair and facilitator for the World Federation of Psychiatric Users (the first world-wide user organisation), and has also been involved in government advisory and policy development committees, including the Sector Reference Group for the New Zealand Disability Strategy.

"She has also been involved in development of the Mental Health Blueprint for the commission, and is a member of the commission's anti-discrimination team. Dr Leibrich made a wonderful contribution as a commissioner. I am more than confident Ms O'Hagan will make a decisive contribution as well," Mrs King said.

Background: The Mental Health Commission was established in 1996 as a ministerial committee. The enactment of the Mental Health Act 1998 resulted in the reappointment of three Commissioners until August 2001. Under current legislation the Commission is to be wound up on 30 August, 2001, but enactment of the New Zealand Public Health and Disability Bill will extend the life of the commission by a further four years. The other two commissioners are Dr Barbara Disley and Mr Bob Henare.
The role of the Commission is to:
 monitor and report to the Minister of Health on the performance of the Ministry of Health and the Health Funding Authority in the implementation of the Government's national mental health strategy
 work with the sector to promote better understanding by the public of mental illness and to eliminate discrimination
 strengthen the workforce by working with the sector and those in training to promote training opportunities, employment options and staff recruitment.

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