Government response to mental health and addiction inquiry brings hope

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The PSA has welcomed the long awaited Government response to ‘He Ara Oranga - Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction’ coupled with the ‘Budget 2019: Mental Health, Wellbeing and Addiction initiatives’ as an encouraging approach to transforming New Zealand’s mental health and addiction services.

"The Government’s commitment to mental health and addiction funding should greatly assist in reducing many of the barriers to mental health and addiction services New Zealanders have faced for too long," says PSA Mental Health Committee convenor Andy Colwell.

"Overall, the PSA is very pleased to see the Budget 2019 initiatives largely lining up with what our members on the frontline have made clear to us as priorities."

After consulting with hundreds of members working in mental health and addiction services across the country, the PSA offered a response to the recommendations set out in He Ara Oranga in February this year.

The report outlined workforce issues, education, access and choice, and establishment of a new mental health commission as some of the key areas that needed to be addressed to improve outcomes in mental health and addiction.

"While the details have not yet been given, Budget documents describe workforce development across the health service as a major focus, along with upskilling in the mental health workforce," says Mr Colwell.

"We are hopeful that this dedication to workforce development will address workforce shortages and improve staff recruitment and retention, which were identified by members as vital to improve an ongoing workforce crisis."

The PSA is supportive of the initiative to improve young people’s mental wellbeing, with the provision of resources to teachers to help promote mental resilience in schools being particularly applauded as a positive step towards improving mental health and addiction education.

"The establishment of a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission is also welcomed as a positive step, however it is vital that all relevant stakeholders including the workforce are incorporated in the formation and ongoing operations of this commission for it to truly deliver to all New Zealanders."

The PSA’s National Mental Health Committee is meeting in Auckland on Wednesday and will review the Budget and Government response to the Inquiry. 

Front line workers in Mental Health and Addiction services are keen to participate in follow up work on the design and delivery aspects needed to implement the inquiry recommendations and budget.