The ministerial inquiry into mental health will take a specific look issues for Maori and other groups with poor outcomes, look at addiction services, and have a broad mandate to make recommendations where "nothing is off the table", Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.
Ardern announced details of the ministerial inquiry into mental health at her post-Cabinet press conference this afternoon, with Health Minister David Clark by her side.
The inquiry is part of the Government's 100-day plan.
Ardern said mental health was a personal issue for "many, many New Zealanders".
"Most of us will know a friend or whānau member that has faced a mental health challenge in their lives. Plenty have reached out and received the support required, but too many still have unhappy stories to tell.
"We know that services are stretched. Demand has grown rapidly in recent years. In 2016/17 more than 170,000 people used mental health and addiction services — that's up by 71 per cent on a decade earlier. We want to hear from service users, the wider community and the mental health sector about their experience and expectations."
The terms of reference have a particular focus on equity of access to quality services and better outcomes, especially for Māori and other groups with poor outcomes.
"I want the inquiry to report back with a clear assessment of the current strengths and weaknesses of our community response to mental health, and of the response of the broader mental health system.
"Nothing is off the table. We all know we have a problem with mental health in this country and our suicide rate is shameful. It is well past time for us to do something about it."
Watch Bill English respond below
The inquiry will report back by the end of October.
It will have subpoena powers to allow for anonymity, and will look at the community voices, people in and out of the sector, and New Zealand's current approach to mental health and addiction, and what needs to change.
It will have a particular focus on equity of access, community confidence in the mental health system and better outcomes, particularly for Māori and other groups with disproportionally poorer outcomes.
It will aim to create an integrated approach to promoting mental well-being, preventing mental health and addiction problems, and identifying and responding to the needs of people experiencing mental health and addiction problems.
It will also look at wider issues such as poverty, housing, and family violence and the adequacy of coordination across wider sectors including education, welfare, housing, justice, and disability support.
The inquiry will be chaired by former Health and Disability Commissioner Ron Patterson and include:
• Dr Barbara Disley, former director of the Mental Health Foundation (1991-1996), and a former executive chairwoman of the Mental Health Commission (1996-2002). She is currently chief executive of Emerge Aotearoa.
• Sir Mason Durie, an expert in Māori health and culture, who has served on a range of health-related committees, councils and advisory groups, including the Mental Health Foundation (1976-1980), The National Health Committee (1998-2000) and was a Families Commissioner (2003-2007).
• Dean Rangihuna, who works in the frontline of the mental health sector as a forensic Māori consumer adviser for the Canterbury DHB.
• Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, who has particular expertise and experience in Pasifika mental health and suicide prevention. She is currently acting co-head of the School of Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland.
• Josiah Tualamali'i, who brings a youth perspective. In 2016, he received the Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Award for Leadership and Inspiration and he is currently a projects and events assistant at the University of Canterbury.
Clark said the group is tasked with hearing the voices in the community, including those such as children who are not currently accessing services.
"It's not about tinkering. There needs to be significant change," he said.
National's spokesperson for Mental Health Matt Doocey said that it is time for action.
"A Government can't guarantee that an inquiry will fix anything. The risk is that we wait 18 to 24 months to learn services can be improved while, in the meantime, there are people who need the help now."
He said the previous Government put an extra $100 million to fund services based on evidence of what would have the most impact for people suffering from mental health issues.
"We took a social investment approach to design and fund 17 new initiatives aimed at helping New Zealanders suffering from mental health issues, as well as focusing on improving services and earlier intervention.
Clark said only some of the previous Government's $100m towards mental health had been progressed, and the Government would keep any policies that had merit, and ditch the rest.
As part of its coalition agreement with NZ First, the Government also wants to re-establish the Mental Health Commission, which was rolled into the Office of the Health And Disability Commissioner in 2012.
It has been over 22 years since the Mason Inquiry — which led to the establishment of the Mental Health Commission in the first place, prompting some in the sector to say that an inquiry is long-overdue.
YesWeCare.nz, a coalition of community groups, health sector workers, unions and people bereaved by suicide, said the inquiry was a unique opportunity.
Public Service Association national secretary Erin Polaczuk said the union will continue to work with coalition partners and community groups to build a platform to achieve lasting change.
"Mental health demand increased by more than 60 per cent since the last Government came to power in 2008, but funding has been for less than half of what's needed."
In the lead-up to the election, the health coalition collected more than 150,000 petition signatures, shared a thousand personal stories, and took 606 shoes across New Zealand — each representing a New Zealander lost to suicide.
WHERE TO GET HELP:
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757