Our role

The Commission provides system-level oversight of mental health and wellbeing and holds the Government of the day and other decision makers to account for the health and wellbeing of people in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Commission works to make sure that all people living in Aotearoa New Zealand experience better mental health and wellbeing, and that everyone can fairly and equally access appropriate support.

It also looks at how services and systems can improve the wellbeing of people living with mental distress and / or addiction, and their whānau.

The Commission's key functions are to:

  • Monitor and report publicly on the state of New Zealand's mental health and wellbeing beyond progress to implement the Government’s response to He Ara Oranga
  • Advocate for improvements to the mental health and wellbeing system outside the improvements Government has committed to through He Ara Oranga.

The Commission is building on the roles of existing organisations that contribute to mental health and wellbeing by looking across the whole system. This includes looking at how the system:

  • promotes mental health and wellbeing
  • builds resilience and prevents poor mental health and wellbeing (including addiction and suicidal distress and behaviour)
  • identifies and responds to people experiencing poor mental health and wellbeing, and the persons (including family and whānau) who support them.

The Commission’s focus spans all government and non-government contributors to mental health and wellbeing. This includes the health and disability, social welfare, housing, education, and justice sectors, as well as social determinants of health, such as housing, employment, poverty, social attitudes, and discrimination. It includes whether approaches to mental health and wellbeing are culturally appropriate.

The Commission contributes to better and more equitable mental health and wellbeing outcomes for people in New Zealand by influencing:

  • government and non-government decision makers to develop effective, culturally appropriate strategies and policies that contribute to improved mental health and wellbeing
  • service funders and providers to design and provide appropriate services and supports
  • research and evidence funders and providers to improve the evidence base relating to mental health and wellbeing
  • people and businesses in New Zealand to take action to improve their own mental health and wellbeing and that of family, whānau, employees, clients, and the wider community.

You can see the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Act 2020 at the New Zealand Legislation website(external link).

Why the Commission was established

In 2018, Government commissioned an independent inquiry into mental health and addiction in Aotearoa New Zealand. The inquiry brought together thousands of voices to paint a picture of the mental health and addictions landscape, giving life to He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction(external link)

He Ara Oranga set out 40 recommendations to improve the mental health and wellbeing of all people in New Zealand. 38 of these recommendations were accepted by Government in full, in principle, or agreed to further consideration.

Establishing a Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission was one of the recommendations accepted by Government. On 9 February 2021, the Commission opened its doors as an independent Crown entity, at arms-length from the government of the day.

Our launch event

On Wednesday, 14 April 2021, the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission held an event to acknowledge the establishment of the Commission, which officially opened its doors on Wednesday, 9 February 2021.

Hon Andrew Little, Minister of Health, Hayden Wano, Chair of the Commission Board, Dean Rangihuna, He Ara Oranga Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry Panel member, and former Mental Health Commissioner, Kevin Allan, spoke at the event.


Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission launch event

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