The Government is currently undertaking an inquiry aimed at improving mental health and addiction services.
The Inquiry wants to hear from people across Aotearoa/New Zealand, and submissions close June 5th. Having your say is easy, and you can do it online.
The team at All Right? have been giving the Inquiry’s five questions a bit of thought and we’ve come up with the following ideas for improving mental health and wellbeing in New Zealand.
What's working well?
There is some investment in strengths-based, community-led approaches that help build resilience and improve mental health and wellbeing. Examples include the art therapy provided by Ōtautahi Creative Spaces, the participatory place-making projects of Gap Filler and the All Right? wellbeing campaign.
Although these initiatives are available to, and benefit the general population, they are not widely recognised as contributing to the health of the whole population.
What's not working well?
Nearly all government funding for mental health is focused on supporting people with mental illness.
While providing top quality specialist mental health services are crucial, there is a lack of investment in strengths-based approaches that help build resilience and improve mental health for all. Wellbeing can bring people’s natural coping mechanisms to the fore and may reduce the need for service level care.
What could be done better?
One of the best ways to prevent people from suffering mental health problems in the first place is equipping them with the knowledge and skills to be in charge of their own wellbeing.
More investment in approaches that promote positive mental health, wellbeing and emotional literacy have the potential to make a big impact on wellbeing in New Zealand.
What sort of society would be best for the mental health of all of our people?
New Zealand needs to change the perception of mental health so there’s widespread acceptance that we all have mental health, and there are things we can do to improve it. Alongside this we need to address unhelpful stereotypes and misinformation that perpetuate stigma, enable bullying and discourage reaching out for support when it’s needed. It’s about changing from a deficit model that only focuses on mental illnesses, to a strengths-based approach that is socially inclusive, promotes and celebrates wellbeing.
Anything else you want to tell us?
Everyone has mental health, and it’s important to invest in initiatives which support people to find out more about their mental health and ways they can improve it