Mental Health & Addiction Update - 9 April 2021

on 12 April


In this edition:

  • Update from Toni Gutschlag, Deputy Director-General
  • More pregnancy and parenting services roll out
  • Dedicated peer support crisis service for Hawke’s Bay
  • New kaupapa Māori services launch in Southern
  • Mental Health Amendment Bill has first reading
  • Developing the long-term pathway for transformation
  • Office of the Director of Mental Health and Addiction Services Annual Report released
  • Mental health advocate named young New Zealander of the year

Kia ora whānau

I hope everyone enjoyed a relaxing Easter break and the short weeks are not putting too much pressure on workloads.

A lot has been said this week about our mental health and addiction system. I want to acknowledge some of the concerns. Firstly, in 2018 when Dr Ashley Bloomfield was appointed Director-General of Health, he recognised the importance of mental health and addiction and established a dedicated directorate to focus on this area.  Since then we have embarked on a large work programme that includes responding to He Ara Oranga and expanding services so that people have greater access to, and choice of, support.

Toni Gutschlag Acting Deputy Director-General, Mental Health and Addiction

Toni Gutschlag
Deputy Director-General, Mental Health and Addiction

The Director of Mental Health is a statutory role under the Mental Health Act, and although there's no legal requirement to publish a report of this area, it has been customary to do so. There has been a lot of comment on what data is included, or not, in the report – there is more detail about this and where to find all the data later in this update. I want to personally assure everyone that transparency and integrity are essential values to all of us working in the New Zealand health system. 

We will continue to develop new ways of working and reporting as the work programme evolves. The transformation of our approach to mental health and addiction called for in He Ara Oranga requires change at every level of our system; so we can't keep doing things the way we’ve always done them.

In other news, the first quarter has been another really busy one with a lot of progress made. Last week we celebrated the start of new services across the central North Island with new pregnancy and parenting services up and running across Whanganui and the Eastern Bay of Plenty. And in Hawke’s Bay, a new integrated crisis service, encompassing peer-support, will be up and running within the next few months. It’s pleasing to see these services getting off the ground, enabling us to deliver better outcomes for our communities.

There was great news this week with the Mental Health Act Amendment Bill having its first reading. This is a significant milestone and a crucial part of our work programme to transform our approach to mental health and wellbeing. I’m looking forward to improving our current legislation, while also continuing work to repeal and replace the Mental Health Act.

Finally, I’d like to personally thank everyone who took the time to share thoughts with us as we develop the long-term pathway for our approach to mental health and wellbeing. Developing this pathway is a big job and it requires collaboration – the Ministry cannot drive the much-needed transformation alone.

We are now analysing all the feedback we received and will keep you updated on the next steps, including the development of more detailed mental health and addiction service frameworks.

Ngā mihi,


Click here to view full update

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