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OECD report adds to growing body of evidence

OECD report adds to growing body of evidence

With the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry report having only freshly landed in Government’s in-tray, the OECD report Mental Health and Work: New Zealand has followed shortly behind, adding to the growing body of evidence for change in the way the mental health system responds to people experiencing mental health issues.

The report, released yesterday, highlights areas for action that closely mirror many of the Inquiry recommendations. Among them, the recommendation that a cross-government approach be taken to addressing inequities in employment outcomes for New Zealanders who experience mental health issues. The report identifies the differing responses to mental health and work from ACC, the Ministry of Social Development and the health system – a system which itself is fragmented between private practices, district health boards and community organisations according to the report.

The prevalence of innovative trials integrating mental health and employment support in New Zealand was identified by the OECD as a positive, but one where potential has largely been untapped. The report found that trials often haven’t been evaluated or scaled up, further exacerbating a scattergun approach to supporting people with mental health issues to retain, return to or gain employment. While the OECD acknowledged that many of New Zealand’s youth programmes and services are ‘…internationally of a very high standard,’ they were often under resourced and/or remained in trial phase for a prolonged period or in perpetuity. Outcomes were disparate for Māori and Pacific young people and some services either required a formal diagnosis for access or didn’t have enough of a mental health focus.

With the Government’s recently announced Wellbeing goals including a focus on mental health and specifically young people as well as lifting Māori and Pasifika incomes, the report offers some opportunities for positive change through a more joined-up system and the scaling up of well-functioning trial programmes and services.

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