ActionStation welcomes He Ara Oranga, the report of the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry.
Thousands of ActionStation members took part in the Inquiry this year to ask for a system change in the way our country promotes mental health, with a focus on wellbeing and community solutions and a wider range of service options.
The report acknowledges that people across New Zealand are calling for a significant overhaul with a move to preventative solutions that promote wellbeing.
Specifically, the report acknowledges widespread support for the approach outlined in the Wellbeing Manifesto developed by PeerZone, a social enterprise run by and for people with mental distress. Almost 2000 individuals and organisations signed an open submission based on the Wellbeing Manifesto, which calls for people with lived experience of mental health and addiction to be placed at the centre of decision-making and service planning.
“I’m pleased to see that the transformative approach of the Wellbeing Manifesto, including a focus on putting people with lived experience at the centre of decision-making, has been picked up in He Ara Oranga,” says ActionStation board member and author of the People’s Mental Health Report, Marianne Elliott.
“It’s also significant that the report echoes the finding of the People’s Mental Health Report that a ‘whole government’ approach is needed to improve the social and economic drivers of mental wellbeing. This includes drug law reform, taking a health approach to addiction.”
“I’m also pleased to see that the report highlights the need for expanding access to services for reach the ‘missing middle’ - people who are not yet in crisis but who are experiencing significant mental distress,” says Elliott.
“Perhaps most significantly, the report calls on the government to repeal and replace the Mental Health Act, in order to align our law with international human rights standards and minimise the use of compulsory treatment. This is one of the boldest recommendations in the report, and has the potential to lead the way to a genuine transformation of the way mental health is approached in our country.”
The Report quotes the report on youth wellbeing by Ara Taiohi and ActionStation (Ngā Kōrero Hauora o Ngā Taiohi) which presented the perspectives of 1000 New Zealanders between 12 and 24. It highlighted multiple sources of stress and anxiety for young people, including economic insecurity, unaffordable housing, insecure, low paid work, concern about damage to the natural environment.
The Report highlights the importance of the need for an active role for a diverse range of people with lived experience of mental health issues to be part of the process of planning the government's response.
“What happens next is critical,” says Elliott, “and people with lived experience of mental distress will be watching to see whether the report’s emphasis on the need to place them at the centre of decision-making is taken seriously by those bodies and institutions tasked with the government’s response to the report. If the process is done right, it will be more likely the recommendations in this report will be implemented in a genuinely transformative way.”
“It’s time now for action. It’s time for the government to take the report seriously, commit to a people-first process, and commit the resources needed for a transformation of mental health. We won’t get another chance this generation” says Elliott.
“The Mental Health Inquiry has produced a ground-breaking report that will guide development for decades to come, says Mary O’Hagan, Peerzone director and former mental health commissioner. “The big challenge now is implementation. That will require cross-party support, multi-sector engagement, Māori owned solutions and the leadership of people with lived experience of distress and their whānau in the changes ahead.”