The father of a mentally unwell man who died in the care of Waikato Hospital is among those relieved the Government is taking action to improve mental health services in New Zealand.
Dave Macpherson, whose son Nicky Stevens was found dead in the Waikato River while in care at Waikato's Henry Bennett Centre in 2015, told the Herald his first reaction to the news of the ministerial inquiry into mental health was that the Government "was on the right track".
Macpherson has been calling for an inquiry into mental health in New Zealand for the past three years after facing many trials and tribulations following his son's death.
He welcomed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's announcements today.
"I think the Government is absolutely on the right track to have a broad-ranging inquiry and look at the reasons behind mental health and not just the services that are provided," Macpherson said.
While he was happy an inquiry was taking place, he was less enthusiastic about the make-up of the inquiry team.
"I think they are all good people and will do a good job, but the mix is missing people with ordinary lived experience such as families and patients – people who have been through the system.
"For me, there are some people around the country who are doing some good advocacy work because their families have been through it.
"I would have liked to have seen a couple of them on there to ground them a bit more in reality."
Macpherson said the success of the inquiry would depend on how much the voices of people and families who have been struggling are heard.
"If they really are heard and really come forward in the report, the better the outcome."
If given the chance to voice his opinions, Macpherson said he would address the need for better services in rural areas, a wrap-around approach for treating mental illness, and training more people to lessen pressure on current mental health personnel.
"One of the big issues that we see in the Waikato is that our crises support services are not available where people need them and when they need them," he said.
"It is a big problem in rural areas and a big problem out of working hours. It is almost as though people are required to have a crisis between 9am-5pm otherwise the support isn't available in most cases.
"The services that are provided can't only be services provided in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. It has got to be far more far-reaching."
Macpherson was also very supportive of the reintroduction of a Mental Health Commission.
"When we tried to take our son's case to the Health and Disability Commission, they literally told us that they couldn't do anything for us until after all the other inquiries had finished," he said.
"That was three years ago and things still haven't finished.
"A dedicated Mental Health Commission would be able to look at individual cases and where things are going wrong, and make regular interventions to try and get Government to change policy if things aren't working."
He believed the inquiry should only be viewed as the start of a reform on mental health services in New Zealand.
"I think it is just the start of looking at why we have such a big problem. If people treat it as the last word it is going to fail.
"There has to be continuing means of looking at where we are heading and whether things are working."