Mostly on track, but more to do – Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission calls for greater focus to address barriers to accessing mental health support
The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission has welcomed the release of the Department of Prime Minster and Cabinet’s Implementation Unit Mid-term Review(external link) on the Government’s progress following its $1.9 billion investment into mental health.
“While the overall picture shows progress has been made and initiatives are on track, we support the report’s call for steps to be taken to speed up delivery in certain areas so that everything is in place come 2023 / 24.” says Board Chair, Hayden Wano.
“In particular, we’d like to see focus on the growth of kaupapa Māori services, and support options for our Pacific communities, as we know they disproportionately experience mental distress or addiction. We also echo calls for greater focus on growing our mental health and addiction workforce at pace.”
The Commission provides system leadership and oversight by monitoring people’s wellbeing in Aotearoa and the things that help us to be and stay well, as well as assessing how our mental health and addiction system supports our wellbeing.
Hayden Wano says the Access and Choice Programme, funded through the mental health and addictions package, is critical to give people access to services and supports when we need them and for there to be a greater range of choice as to the type of support and service options available.
“We are currently carrying out our own focused review of the Access and Choice Programme, which is due to be released in mid-October,” says Hayden Wano.
The Commission welcomes the focus on infrastructure in the Implementation Unit’s Mid-term Review. There is an urgent need to upgrade existing inpatient mental health facilities. Many facilities are no longer fit for purpose, have outdated design features, and need to be modernised and updated.
Hayden Wano says that more inpatient beds is not the answer to meeting people’s wellbeing needs and not what people and communities called for in He Ara Oranga.
“We are calling for the Government to urgently invest in and prioritise the expansion of community-based acute mental health support options to help address acute inpatient capacity issues.” he says.
“Our wellbeing system needs to be providing community-based therapeutic support and culturally-appropriate acute care for when people do become unwell. These services and solutions give us choice as to how we are cared for and supported.”
The Commission believes there is a need to look at new and different ways of how people are cared for in inpatient settings to improve how existing bed capacity is used. The right workforce and staffing levels are also key to ensuring that inpatient facilities can optimise the number of acute beds available at any given time.
“Inpatient facilities are only part of the equation. As a nation, we need to keep having the wider conversation about what it’s really going to take to meet people’s wellbeing needs. That means having a greater focus on prevention and early intervention. People in Aotearoa need to get the support we need at the right time and be supported to regain our wellbeing in our local community,” says Hayden Wano.