“One of the election promises being kept by the incoming government is to bring back an independent mental health commission. This policy was supported by all three of Labour, the Greens and NZ First in the lead up to the election, and includes both the re-establishment of an independent Mental Health Commission and a review of mental health services.
The increased media attention this year surrounding mental health has painted the sector in a grim light, one befallen by lack of funding, lack of access and out of touch with how to help the people who are requesting it.
An overhaul of primary care is needed to address people’s access to health services. Overwhelmingly people want to be able to go to their primary health care provider to access mental health support (in multiple different forms) and because of the way funding is allocated to geographic areas rather than the people who need it, this support simply isn’t available. This should be a key priority for any Mental Health Commission.
The Health and Disability Commission currently has an appointed Mental Health Commissioner. They have set out a monitoring and advocacy framework that was circulated in July this year that sets out key priorities for a public mental health sector, which includes:
- Can I get help for my needs?
- Am I helped to stay well and get well?
- Am I a partner in my care?
- Do services support me to be safe?
- Do services work well together for me?
- Do services work well for everyone?
- Is the workforce healthy?
These priorities also have markers, indicators and supporting documents and contexts attached to them that bring together different projects, organisations and frameworks to assist in measuring and evaluating on an annual basis ways and recommendations for improving mental health and addiction services. The first report is scheduled to be released in Feb 2018.
An independent mental health commission is well placed to pick up this work and its mandate would be to bring together disparate initiatives, frameworks, documents and recommendations for improving mental health for all of Aotearoa.”