Dave Macpherson: Media Statement re Budget & Mental Health

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What we want from the Government’s ‘Wellbeing Budget”

The mother of Nicky Stevens, who died in 2015 while in the legal care of the mental health system, says her family “wants transformational change to a mental health system that failed our son, and failed so many others.”

Jane Stevens said “our whanau was one of many suicide-bereaved whanau who were part of the 2017 National Shoe Project that highlighted the suicide epidemic in this country.”

“The hundreds of families involved strongly called for a Mental Health Inquiry prior to the 2017 elections.”

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“And we stood on the steps of Parliament and cheered when Jacinda Ardern spoke to the families gathered there on International Suicide Prevention Day and committed a Labour-led Government to a Zero Suicide target.”

“We were happy when we heard that the newly-elected government would grant our request for an Inquiry.”

“But now, it’s time for action; this Inquiry and this Budget have to deliver,” she said.

“The Budget must support

  • change in the way mental health is funded,
  • change to the way mental health services are delivered,
  • change to the training, development and resourcing of the mental health workforce, and
  • change to the stigma and silencing that has caused so much damage to so many people.

“The Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday that we must have a zero suicide target is a good start but there is much more needed,” Stevens added.

“We are under no illusions that it’s a huge task and will take years to turn around.”

“There must also be long term commitment that transforms the way the system deals with service users and families.”

“These include

  • commitment to supporting those bereaved by the death of their loved ones and to having their voices at the decision making table
  • commitment to partnering with communities and whanau to find solutions
  • commitment to improving the coronial system
  • commitment to establishing an independent authority to investigate serious incidents, and
  • commitment to the establishment of an effective mental health watchdog – with teeth!”

Ms Stevens said, “It’s not a job for the faint hearted, but the price of doing nothing is the continued loss of our loved ones at a rate double that of the road toll, and the despair of many thousands of people suffering from mental illness and distress who currently can’t access the services they need to live a healthy life.”

Dave Macpherson is TDB’s mental health blogger. He became a Waikato DHB member after his son died from mental health incompetence.