Mental Health & Addiction Update - 19 June 2020

on 22 June

Mental Health & Addiction Update

Kia ora whānau

Robyn Shearer - DDG Mental Health & Addiction

I’m sure you’ve noticed just how much is going on in the health and disability sector more broadly at the moment, so I wanted to give you a few updates below.

We know that the starting point for people having good mental wellbeing is that their basic needs are being met. That they have somewhere to live (that’s warm), employment, income, access to education and other social supports. Our psychosocial plan focuses on ensuring that we not only look at the health response, but that we are joined up across Government to ensure we are linked up on other initiatives that contribute to wellbeing.

There is strong recognition across Government that we are working towards similar goals and are looking at how we can do that more collaboratively, starting with developing a shared cross-agency work programme that demonstrates what we are doing for mental health and wellbeing.

Currently contributing to a monthly forum are the Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Education, WorkSafe, Department of Corrections, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Oranga Tamariki, Ministry of Justice, and the Social Wellbeing Agency. We will look to expand this group to other relevant agencies over the coming months. I look forward to keeping you updated with the work across this group.

You may have seen last week that the University of Auckland released a report by Koi Tū on Protecting and Promoting Mental Wellbeing: Beyond Covid-19. The report predicts an unprecedented need from New Zealanders over the coming months for more mental health and wellbeing support and suggests a move to community-led solutions.

We welcome the recommendations made about the need for additional mental health and wellbeing support in the wake of COVID-19. History has shown us that in terms of mental health, the critical timeframe to watch out for is 6 to 12 months after a traumatic event. But we do not accept that it is inevitable that there will be a mental health crisis in New Zealand. The more we can do now to help people look after their wellbeing – and resilience – the less likely people are to get into distress down the track.

I was pleased to see that many of the recommendations in the report are areas that the Ministry of Health is already working in, including focusing on communities coming up with solutions that are right for them and providing people with more access to and choice of mental health services including at local GP clinics. You can learn more about what we are doing in this space in the story below that was aired on One News at the weekend.

Ngā mihi nui

Robyn

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