Mental Health & Addiction Update - September 2019

on 19 September

Mental Health & Addiction Update

It’s been an eventful fortnight with the Government making a range of mental health and addition announcements.

Last week, the next steps for expanding access and choice of primary mental health services were announced. This included extending funding for the integrated GP pilot across 22 general practices, and kaupapa Māori provider Te Kuwatawata.

This was followed on Tuesday by the launch of Every Life Matters - He Tapu te Oranga o ia Tangata: Suicide Prevention Strategy 2019–2029 and Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2019–2024.

I want to acknowledge and thank everyone who helped create this strategy and action plan – especially all the people who gave feedback on the draft strategy in 2017 and made submissions to the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction. Your voices were crucial for the plan to take shape.

The Government also announced the establishment of a new initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission. Hayden Wano has been appointed as the Chair and I welcome him to this important role.

I’ve included more information on all these announcements below in case you missed them. I look forward to staying in touch about this work.

Ngā mihi nui,

Robyn Shearer
Deputy Director-General, Mental Health & Addiction


Suicide Prevention Strategy and Action Plan launched

Every Life Matters

On 10 September, the Government launched Every Life Matters - He Tapu te Oranga o ia Tangata: Suicide Prevention Strategy 2019–2029 and Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2019–2024 for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Every Life Matters is an opportunity to reorganise and refocus our efforts to reduce New Zealand’s historically high rate of suicide.

One key action is to establish a Suicide Prevention Office to provide national leadership and monitor progress in delivering on the plan. The office will be housed and supported by the Ministry of Health initially, with the intention of becoming a stand-alone Office in the coming years.

We encourage everyone to read Every Life Matters and take collective action to support people in our communities. You can download a copy on the Ministry of Health website.

Expanding access to and choice of mental health and addiction support

An investment of $6 million for two existing mental health services was announced on 8 September.

The Integrated General Practices Pilot, spanning 22 general practices in Northland, Waitemata, Auckland, Counties Manukau, Lakes, Capital and Coast and Canterbury district health board regions had its funding confirmed.  This will help people who visit these general practices to continue to get support from mental health workers or be connected to other providers as needed.

Funding was also confirmed for Te Kuwatawata, a kaupapa Māori provider in Tairāwhiti. This service offers support for tāngata whairoa (people seeking wellbeing) and their whānau experiencing distress. It is ground in mātauranga Māori and takes a holistic approach to a person’s mental health and wellbeing.

The Ministry of Health will release a Request for Proposals (RFP) very shortly for other providers who would like to apply for funding. Information on this process will be made publicly available on the Government Electronic Tender Service (GETS) once its released.

Mental Health & Wellbeing Commission

A new initial Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission to provide independent oversight has been announced, while legislation progresses for the permanent Commission.

Hayden Wano will be taking up the role of Chair of the initial Commision from November 2019. Mr Wano is of Te Atiawa, Taranaki and Ngāti Awa descent and brings over 40 years’ health sector experience in mental health, community and medical services to this role.

He will be joined by four members – Dr Julie Wharewera-Mika, Kevin Hague, Kelly Pope and Kendall Flutey.

The initial Commission’s focus will be wider than the health sector – it will look at all the social determinants that contribute to New Zealanders’ wellbeing. Its purpose is to:

  • provide independent scrutiny of the Government’s progress in improving New Zealand’s mental health and wellbeing
  • promote collaboration between entities that contribute to mental health and wellbeing
  • develop advice for the permanent Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission that will enable the permanent Commission to make swift progress once it has been established.

While the initial Commission is in place, the existing Mental Health Commissioner will continue to carry out their role making decisions in relation to complaints about mental health and addiction services, and, monitoring and advocating for improvements to mental health and addiction services.

The initial Commission will work closely with the Mental Health Commissioner to ensure their work is coordinated.

Where to get help

Visit the Ministry for Health website for detailed information on mental health and addiction helplines and what to do in an emergency.


If you know someone who would like to get these updates, they can subscribe using our online subscription form.

Ministry of Health - Manatu Hauora

Ministry of Health - Manatū Hauora
133 Molesworth Street, Thorndon
Wellington, 6011
New Zealand


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