Time to get serious about drivers of mental health issues

Health Minister Dr David Clark says the Mental Health Commissioner’s latest report is further confirmation of the need to tackle the drivers of mental health issues.

Commissioner Kevin Allan says New Zealand needs to broaden its focus from mental illness and addiction to include a greater focus on mental wellbeing and recovery. His report highlights growing demand for mental health services and notes many needs are left unmet.

“Mental health and addiction are issues that touch every family in New Zealand. While we absolutely need quality services to help those in need, we also need to get serious about facing up to the major causes of these issues.

“As a country we can do more to identify and support people in need at an earlier stage. We need more prevention and early intervention.

“The Commissioner is right to talk about the need to address social factors such as housing, income, education and social and cultural connections. He is also right to highlight inequities of treatment and outcomes for Māori, Pacific people and young people.

“It is these and other concerns that led to community demand for the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, which the Government announced last month.

“I’m confident the Inquiry has the right expertise and breadth of focus to look at the issues raised in today’s report and find meaningful recommendations to improve our community-wide response to mental health and addiction,” says Dr Clark.

The Government will consider the Commissioner’s recommendations. The Commissioner’s report will also be available to the Inquiry.