Mental Health & Addiction Update - 13 December 2021

on 14 December


In this edition:

  • IPMHA making a difference in Wainuiomata

  • Repealing and replacing the Mental Health Act

  • He Kāpehu Whetū website

  • Strengthening maternal mental health

  • Results of the New Zealand Health Survey 2020/21

  • Public Health Workforce Development Survey


Kia ora koutou

This is our last newsletter of the year, so I wanted to take this opportunity to sincerely thank you all for your efforts in 2021.

With all the disruption and complications caused by COVID-19, it’s been a really busy time for everyone. You've all put in a huge amount of effort, and in particular I'd like to acknowledge everyone working in specialist services for continuing to support our most vulnerable service users during these challenging times. 

Philip Grady Deputy Director-General, Mental Health and Addiction

Philip Grady
Acting Deputy Director-General, Mental Health and Addiction

I know that while many of us were hoping things would wind down as we approached the end of 2021, the reality is a bit different. We’ve seen close up that this pandemic is infectious and doesn’t respect people's holiday plans.

Many in the health sector, including here at the Ministry of Health, will keep working over the holiday period to continue efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep New Zealanders safer.

So, to those of you working over this period - thank you. My hope is that you will get a chance to take a break soon. To those of you taking a break in the coming weeks, I hope you get the relaxing break you deserve.

Caring for your mental wellbeing is so important and we need to practice what we preach in terms of looking after ourselves. We can’t be as effective at supporting people if we aren’t feeling good ourselves.

Looking back on 2021, there’s been a lot of positive change, and I’m pleased to see some big pieces like our Access and Choice programme are coming together and starting to produce excellent outcomes for New Zealanders. In October, more than 11,300 people were seen by health improvement practitioners and health coaches in GP clinics around the country. Our Pacific, Kaupapa Māori youth service in addition to this also performed strongly.

Kia Kaha, Kia Māia, Kia Ora Aotearoa: COVID-19 Psychosocial and Mental Wellbeing Plan has also made a difference and I’m proud of our sector’s contribution. We are working hard behind the scenes to increase vaccination rates in the mental health and addiction service user community. The response to COVID-19 will continue to pose resourcing challenges into the future for the sector, but it is my view we must not lose focus or the momentum we have in transforming mental health and addiction support in this country.

That’s why the launch of Kia Manawanui Aotearoa: Long-term pathway to mental wellbeing in September was so important. Kia Manawanui represents the first time all of government has come together to address the determinants of mental wellbeing, and it also lifts the contribution of whānau and a community-led approach. This is an acknowledgement that mental wellbeing is an issue for everyone to care about and the wellbeing challenges we face as a nation are bigger than any individual, any non-governmental organisation, any ministry, or any government. I know this will be the sort of ownership and oversight the mental health and addiction sector will be pleased to see.

Among the many improvements that really stood out this year, one was definitely the growing contribution of the Lived Experience community. The Lived Experience group now set up inside the directorate amplifies the voices of New Zealand’s lived experience communities and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our directorate’s governance, planning, policy and service development decisions. Their contribution has been critical in work like the repeal and replacement of the Mental Health Act, and the team will be busy next year too.

We have a number of large pieces of work which we will be in touch early in the new year with opportunities for you to contribute to things like System and Services Framework.

So please, take the time to catch up with whānau and loved ones in the coming weeks, relax and try to come back in 2022 recharged.

We’ll be back in touch early in the new year. So until then, I want to wish you and your whānau a Meri Kirihimete.

Ngā mihi,


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