‘Missed op­por­tu­nity’ for men­tal health

Rotorua Daily Post - - Local News - Leah Teb­butt

The long-awaited re­port from the Men­tal Health In­quiry of­fered “a once-ina-gen­er­a­tion op­por­tu­nity” and ears to “lis­ten to the peo­ple”.

But clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Dr Waikare­moana Waitoki be­lieves the rec­om­men­da­tions de­liv­ered sim­ply resur­faced rec­om­men­da­tions made in other re­ports.

A 10-month Gov­ern­ment in­quiry into men­tal health and ad­dic­tion was last week handed to the Health Min­is­ter David Clark who re­leased it on Tues­day.

The re­sult­ing 200-page re­port, He Ara Oranga, was led by for­mer Health and Dis­abil­ity Com­mis­sioner Ron Pater­son.

The panel heard from thou­sands of peo­ple with ex­pe­ri­ence, wha¯nau, ser­vice providers, com­mu­nity groups at 26 pub­lic fo­rums from Kaitaia to In­ver­cargill.

It made 40 rec­om­men­da­tions and said New Zealand could not med­i­cate or treat its way out of the epi­demic of men­tal dis­tress and ad­dic­tion af­fect­ing all lay­ers of so­ci­ety.

It said po­lit­i­cal com­mit­ment was es­sen­tial. The panel recog­nised fund­ing would be re­quired to ex­tend ac­cess to men­tal health and ad­dic­tion ser­vices.

“Men­tal health is too im­por­tant to be a po­lit­i­cal foot­ball.

“We think an op­por­tu­nity ex­ists for politi­cians to work to­gether on these im­por­tant is­sues.”

How­ever, Waitoki said in her view the 40 rec­om­men­da­tions missed an op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote Ma¯ori-led, sus­tain­able so­lu­tions that will save, and im­prove Ma¯ori lives.

Ma¯ori did not need an­other re­port with a Ma¯ori name that ex­cluded their voices, she said.

“The re­port needed to more strongly link the struc­tural racism within the sys­tems of ed­u­ca­tion, health, jus­tice, hous­ing and em­ploy­ment sec­tors that im­pact on Ma¯ori men­tal health and ad­dic­tion.” She said a stark omis­sion was the im­pact of cli­mate change, and the voices of takat­a­pui (rain­bow com­mu­nity) and wa¯hine Ma¯ori. Waitoki said there was hope in the re­port in­di­cated through the rec­om­men­da­tions to re­form the Men­tal Health Act and in­creased ac­cess to psy­cho­log­i­cal ser­vices.

How­ever, she said a ma­jor con­cern for the psy­chol­ogy work­force is the need to em­bed kau­papa Ma¯ori con­tent in all ar­eas of the dis­ci­pline.

“The re­port needed to show a stronger com­mit­ment to sup­port­ing Ma¯ori, and their whanau. A Ma¯ori Health Com­mis­sion is needed. A Na­tional Ma¯ori Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Strat­egy is needed.

“The Gov­ern­ment needs to work with Ma¯ori to ad­dress the lack of voices in these rec­om­men­da­tions.”

The re­port recog­nised the grow­ing need for ac­cess to men­tal health ser­vices for chil­dren and youth, and that pre­ven­ta­tive and early in­ter­ven­tion is cru­cial.

The New Zealand As­so­ci­a­tion of Coun­sel­lors youth men­tal health port­fo­lio holder Chris­tine Macfar­lane wel­comed the in­quiry’s rec­om­men­da­tions, but said the Gov­ern­ment should ad­dress ur­gent need by in­creas­ing fund­ing for school guid­ance coun­sel­lors im­me­di­ately.

“It’s im­por­tant that Gov­ern­ment in­vest fund­ing into ac­cess to talk­ing ther­a­pies through pri­mary, in­ter­me­di­ate and sec­ondary schools, and ac­tion should be taken sooner rather than later.”

Men­tal Health Foun­da­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive Shaun Robin­son was ex­cited that men­tal health would not be ne­glected any longer. He said no po­lit­i­cal party could take the moral high-ground but ser­vice providers in­clud­ing him­self would keep the pres­sure on po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion-mak­ers to over­come bar­ri­ers in im­ple­ment­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions. been wait­ing for the in­quiry, and the in­quiry has in­structed them to stop de­lay­ing and get go­ing. There is no fur­ther jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for de­lay, too much time and too many lives have been lost.”

The Gov­ern­ment would for­mally re­spond to the re­port’s find­ings by March next year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.