Our role

The Commission is the kaitiaki (guardian) of mental health and wellbeing, and works toward long-term transformation of the mental health, addiction and wellbeing systems in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Commission's key objective is to contribute to better and equitable mental health and wellbeing outcomes for all people in Aotearoa New Zealand.

In support of this objective, the Commission provides mental health and wellbeing system-level oversight, monitoring and advocacy.

It also holds the Government of the day and other decision makers to account for the mental health and wellbeing of people in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Key functions

System oversight
  • Promotes alignment, collaboration, and communication between entities involved in mental health and wellbeing.
  • 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.
  • Looks at how services and systems can improve the wellbeing of people living with mental distress and / or addiction, and their whānau.
Monitoring
  • Independently monitors and shares findings on Aotearoa’s mental health, addiction and wellbeing systems.
  • Assesses and reports publicly on the mental health and wellbeing of people in New Zealand.
  • Assesses and reports publicly on the effectiveness, efficiency, and adequacy of approaches to mental health and wellbeing.
Advocacy
  • Listens to and works alongside people disproportionately experiencing inequity, including those with lived experience of mental distress or addiction, Māori, and other priority groups.
  • Amplifies community voices and brings focus to opportunities where meaningful, long-term transformation can take place.
  • Advocates for the collective interests of people who experience mental distress or addiction (or both), and the people (including whānau) who support them.
  • Speaks up and brings focus to areas that can have a significant positive impact on people’s lives and wellbeing.
  • Make recommendations to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and adequacy of approaches to mental health and wellbeing.

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

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 is guided by its values, grounding itself in Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 

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.

 

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