Mental Health and Addiction Directorate update

on 2 June

Head and shoulders photo of Dr Arran Culver

Dr Arran Culver
Acting Deputy Director-General
Mental Health and Addiction
Ministry of Health

Kia ora koutou

From today, I’ve taken over as Acting Deputy Director-General for the Mental Health and Addiction Directorate, as Philip Grady has moved to interim Health New Zealand. I consider this opportunity a real privilege. I want to ensure there is a smooth transition during the reforms and to continue the good progress that has been made in the Mental Health and Addiction Directorate.

While I have worked at the Ministry of Health for two and a half years now as Chief Clinical Advisor for the Mental Health and Addiction Directorate, I look forward to engaging with you in this new capacity as Acting DDG.

For those of you I haven’t met, I am a child and adolescent psychiatrist, and have been working in the mental health sector for 25 years. Through this time, it has been heartening to see the increased focus on transforming all aspects of the mental health and addiction system in Aotearoa New Zealand.

These wider health reforms provide a unique opportunity to further strengthen services, from care provided in the community and primary sector through to specialist services. We can create a cohesive national health system that delivers locally, supported by co-ordinated planning and oversight.

The mental health and addiction functions remaining in the Ministry are those that cover strategy and policy, regulation, clinical and lived experience expertise, and suicide prevention. The functions moving to the interim Health New Zealand are focused on planning and commissioning services.

One of the first initiatives that the Ministry, interim Health New Zealand, and the Māori Health Authority will work on together is the System and Service Framework. This framework identifies the core components of a contemporary mental health and addiction system. You can find out more information by reading the System and Service Framework conversations document, and share your thoughts and feedback through this survey. We have heard that many people would like more time to complete feedback, so we have been able to extend the deadline and the survey will now close at 11.59pm on Friday 17 June.

Though there are still a lot of unknowns as we move through this reform, we remain part of one health system. We will develop new ways to work together across the system to keep improving mental health and addiction outcomes for all New Zealanders. I’ve really enjoyed working with Phil and look forward to continuing this mahi together.

Ngā mihi nui,

Head and shoulders photo of Philip Grady

Philip Grady
Interim Director Mental Health and Addiction
interim Health New Zealand

Kia ora koutou

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all the support I have received in my time as the Acting Deputy Director-General of Mental Health and Addiction and to wish Arran all the best in his new role.

I am leaving the Ministry to take up the role of Interim Director Mental Health and Addiction in the interim Health New Zealand, and am excited about the opportunity to help shape the mental health and addiction function of Health New Zealand.

Recently, as Acting DDG I had the privilege to travel down south and visit staff and service users at Southern DHB, Ashburn Clinic, and Moana House. Getting to see the important work you are a part of around the country is one of the real privileges of the role.

On this particular visit, a service user spoke to me about their personal journey and the successes and challenges they had lived through.

Photo of stones with the words Patience, Kindness, Aroha, Compassion, Hope, Caring, Courage and Trust painted on them A stone in the centre is painted with the words Living Well

The Living Well painted stones, identifying patience, kindness, aroha, caring, courage, trust, hope, and compassion 

At the end they gifted me a set of stones painted with the values they needed to live well. This beautiful taonga was another poignant reminder to me of what is at stake and some of the key attributes we need to embed as the new system takes shape. Working in the mental health and addiction sector always requires aroha, patience, caring, kindness, and compassion, and over the coming months holding fast to these values will be even more important.

My time as Acting DDG over the last ten or so months has been incredibly rewarding. Thanks again for your support, and, as Arran said, we look forward to working together across the Ministry, Health New Zealand, the Māori Health Authority, and the wider sector as we continue to transform the mental health and addiction system in New Zealand.

Ngā mihi,

Ministry of Health - Manatū Hauora

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