The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission has presented at an oral hearing on its recent submission on the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill.
Speaking after the hearing, the Chair of the Commission Hayden Wano welcomed the opportunity to present on changes currently proposed by the Bill, and advocated strongly for addressing persistent inequities existing within the system and meeting the needs of people who are underserved by the system.
“While the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill is a chance to prepare for a system that best serves those whose health outcomes are deteriorating, it is important we get the foundation right, now. A proper foundation will ensure that people’s lived experiences of mental distress and challenges are heard upfront and robustly challenge the fairness of the existing system”, says Wano.
“The Bill could say a lot more about mental health, addiction and wider wellbeing outcomes affecting the four dimensions of hauora; it could do more to uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi and support greater wellbeing for Māori; and it should involve a wider range of views and people with lived experience in decision making,” he said.
“In order to be central to the design, planning, management and delivery of hauora hinengaro and mental health services, iwi and Māori must be the major decision-makers of their care.”
Commission Board member Taimi Allan also called for a supporting Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy to put more focus on mental health and wider wellbeing outcomes, and for cross-agency efforts to be monitored.
“Such a strategy would go a long way towards making the issue of mental health more visible in our society. There also needs to be strong collaboration between health agencies and other agencies on the social, economic, commercial and wider environmental determinants of health”, says Allan.
“Each year around one in five of us experience mental illness or significant mental distress. We estimate 50 to 80% of New Zealanders will experience mental distress, or addiction challenges, or both, in their lifetimes. Every year, 20,000 people attempt to end their lives. The Pae Ora Bill should not only provide an opportunity to enshrine the mental health and addiction system transformation proposed by the He Ara Oranga inquiry report in law, but also ensure that the voices of people experiencing mental distress and other challenges are heard and acted upon appropriately.
“People with greater experience of negative health outcomes than most want more power in their decision-making. We are here to ensure that their views are heard; that this happens in a timely, culturally-sensitive and appropriate manner; and that there is a cohesive, well-resourced and collaborative health and wellbeing system at the heart of this work,” she said.