Mental Health & Addiction Update 15 November 2019

on 21 November


Mental Health & Addiction update

Kia ora,

Robyn Shearer, Deputy Director-General, Mental Health & Addiction, Ministry of Health

I was delighted to be in Auckland this week for the International e-Mental Health Experts Forum. It was a fantastic opportunity to talk about a new framework the Ministry of Health is developing to better support New Zealand’s rapidly expanding e-mental health services.

Digital mental health and addiction programmes, such as e-coaching, e-screening and e-therapy, are revolutionising our country’s mental health services, but we need to ensure they’re safe and fit-for-purpose.

The Ministry's developing an e-Mental Health Framework to guide the use and development of e-mental health to better support providers who deliver telehealth and web-based programmes, practitioners and the public.

There are thousands of technology support options available to support people with their wellbeing (perhaps millions...) but what I heard at the forum was that few have been developed with the people that use them - and many are not properly tested or evidenced. The framework is our starting point for quality improvement in this area.  

We’re expecting that the framework will be ready for use early next year and will give added confidence for people accessing tools and services online in New Zealand. There were over 120 people at the forum which provided a really good opportunity to gauge the development of this work with international experts and learn from others experiences.

I was also privileged to meet with a group of Community Mental Health nurses in Auckland earlier in the week. The theme of the day was 'Flourishing through the Career Span'.

Nurses are the largest workforce, alongside of support workers, and play a critical role with recovery. Nurses are in a fantastic position to take a leading role in how we change the system.

I started my career as a mental health nurse in one of the largest psychiatric hospitals in the country. I’ve been passionate ever since about the need for an exceptional mental health workforce in New Zealand. Over the next four years, the Government is investing over $77 million in our mental health workforce. 

Earlier this year I wrote an article about why I work in mental health. In it I said, 'I hope that we continue to invest in the amazing people who work in mental health services. That we empower and support them to continue to do work alongside those in our country who need help.' You can read the full article on LinkedIn.

As mentioned in the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction report, He Ara Oranga, 'All the dreams of the Inquiry will come to naught if we don’t have a workforce.'

We need to celebrate the tremendous workforce we have in New Zealand. Do you work in mental health or know someone who does? If so, please share your story with me. We’d love to celebrate your story by sharing the work you do and what it means to you with others via our newsletter.

Also, I often tweet during the week about where I am or some great resources or services I’ve come across. If you’d like to join me in conversation, you can find me on twitter at @shearer_robyn.

Ngā mihi nui,
Robyn Shearer
Deputy Director-General, Mental Health & Addiction.


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