The People’s Mental Health Report was launched last Wednesday (19 April) and since then support for the recommendations in the report has been gathering momentum.
New Zealanders have been invited to show their support for our recommendations by signing an open letter (see: link below) which will be delivered to the Minister of Health on Tuesday the 9th of April.
On Monday Prime Minister Bill English, in response to questions about the Report, indicated the upcoming budget would allocate more money to mental health, but was clear he would not call for a review.
In contrast, over 5000 people have signed an Open Letter in support of the recommendations – including a call for an urgent independent review.
High profile New Zealanders have also publicly supported the Report, and its call for an independent review of the mental health system, including New Zealander of the Year Taika Waititi and Victims Advocate Louise Nicholas.
Other actors and entertainers including Rhys Darby, Lizzie Marvelly, Joel Tobeck, David Fane, Jackie Clarke, Michelle A’Court and Te Radar have also shown their support by signing the open letter. Broadcasters and sportspeople have also joined the call, including Wairangi Kopu, Sione Faumaina, Stacey Morrison, Jenny May-Clarkson and Suzy Cato.
“Mental health struggles affect half of all New Zealanders in their lifetime, and money and fame makes no difference, so I think it’s no surprise such a wide range of people are wanting to see urgent changes,” says People’s Mental Health Review spokesperson Kyle MacDonald.
The Report was based on 500 stories submitted to the People’s Mental Health Review, a crowdfunded review initiated by mental health advocates Mike King and Kyle MacDonald and community campaign group ActionStation.
The Report found over 90% of submitters were dissatisfied with their experience of Mental Health services, with access being the most cited concern of the over 500 submissions made.
Report author and ActionStation co-director, Marianne Elliott says: “Since we published the report, I’ve been contacted by dozens more people wanting to share their experiences of struggling to access mental health care when they need it, or being treated in ways that are dismissive and disrespectful once they do access those services. Their stories make for alarming reading, and have strengthened the view I formed writing the report that we need an urgent, fully independent review of mental health services in New Zealand.”
The People’s Mental Health Report recommends:
An urgent funding increase for mental health services for acute and community based mental health services nationally. This requires a focus on increasing community based service access and treatment choices for people using mental health services to provide interventions early. It is also essential to support the people who work in mental health services, by easing workload pressures and enabling them to offer the services and support people want and need.
Fully independent oversight of the mental health system in line with minimum obligations set out in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This could be in the form of restoring the Mental Health Commission, the creation of an independent Disability Commission, or the inclusion of dedicated Mental Health Commissioners under the current Human Rights Commission. These would include clearly designated roles for those with lived experience.
A Royal Commission of Inquiry into the structure and provision of mental health services in New Zealand. The terms of this inquiry should be informed by New Zealand’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and the need to provide for healthy families and healthy communities, and should allow for the increasing numbers of people seeking support from mental health services.
A national education programme to support all New Zealanders to understand what mental health is, and what mental health services provide, that operates in the education system and wider society. This will ensure that the work of change is understood by all New Zealanders so people with lived experience are included by our society rather than having to endure prejudice and discrimination.
The Open Letter will be delivered at 10.30am on Tuesday 9 April on the steps of Parliament. The Minister of Health, along with health spokespeople from all other parties, have been invited to the delivery.