GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Consultation is a good thing. Dithering is not.


We have had a Mental Health Inquiry . A 21 member working group was set up to advise the government on its response . This has now been replaced by several more working groups.

Last Friday Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson asked:

When do we stop talking and start doing?

Good question.

What’s the answer Prime Minister?

TDB Recommends


Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. The MH review is inspiring, but addresses the primary need for seismic attitudinal shifts. it makes recommendations, but is in no way a blueprint. Having worked in the specialist mental health services for 6 years I can attest to the glacial pace for implementing even the slightest change within DHBs. Institutional mindset and the clinical model are major barriers to the reforms necessary.

    So yes, it is going to take several working groups to tackle the different areas: the needs of adult inpatients are different to youth; lumping ID and MH forensic patients together in unfit for purpose facilities is going to take a massive injection of money to sort out and resource; establishing community based hubs of care should have been implemented and adequately resourced before they closed the asylums years ago. Inadequate staffing levels and training also need addressing.

    Sure a whole heap of money would help, but the problems are complex, not only the addressing of the illnesses themselves, but run down inadequate facilities nationwide and a burned-out and discouraged work force. It needs to be done right for the most vulnerable in our communities

  2. Do What?
    It is easy to jump on the “for chrissakes somebody do something…..!” bandwagon but as we have seen so many times in this country – quick ill-considered decisions are usually not the best in the long term.
    It is no good just thinking about the now, mental health strategies have to look to the future as well and that takes a lot of planning and good planning takes quite a long time, unfortunately.
    At least we have a government that is prepared to look into the future and not just to take a short-term knee jerk reaction to anything that looks difficult, as did the previous government.
    There is a growing mental health crisis, that is for sure, but making rash decisions just to appease the ZB listeners “do something” brigade is not the way to make lasting progress in improving the nation’s mental health.

Comments are closed.