The long-awaited report from the Mental Health Inquiry offered "a once-in-a-generation opportunity" and ears that would "listen to the people".

But clinical psychologist Dr Waikaremoana Waitoki believes the recommendations delivered simply resurfaced recommendations made in countless other reports.

A 10-month Government inquiry into mental health and addiction was last week handed to the Health Minister David Clark who released it on Tuesday.

The resulting 200-page report, He Ara Oranga, was led by former Health and Disability Commissioner Ron Paterson.


The panel heard from thousands of people with experience, whānau, service providers, community groups at 26 public forums from Kaitaia to Invercargill.

The report made 40 recommendations and said New Zealand could not medicate or treat its way out of the epidemic of mental distress and addiction affecting all layers of society.

It said political commitment was essential. The panel recognised funding would be required to extend the public's access to mental health and addiction services.

"Mental health is too important to be a political football.

"We think an opportunity exists for politicians to work together on these important issues."

However, Waitoki said the 40 recommendations missed an opportunity to promote Māori-led, sustainable solutions that will save, and improve Māori lives.

Māori did not need another report with a Māori name that excluded their voices, she said.

"The report needed to more strongly link the structural racism within the systems of education, health, justice, housing and employment sectors that impact on Māori mental health and addiction."


She said a stark omission was the impact of climate change, and the voices of takatapui (rainbow community) and wāhine Māori.

Waitoki said there was hope in the report indicated through the recommendations to reform the Mental Health Act and increased access to psychological services.

However, she said a major concern for the psychology workforce is the need to embed kaupapa Māori content in all areas of the discipline.

"The report needed to show a stronger commitment to supporting Māori, and their whanau. A Māori Health Commission is needed. A National Māori Suicide Prevention Strategy is needed.

"The government needs to work with Māori to address the lack of voices in these recommendations."

The report recognised the growing need for access to mental health services for children and youth, and that preventative and early intervention is crucial.

The New Zealand Association of Counsellors youth mental health portfolio holder Christine Macfarlane welcomed the inquiry's recommendations, but said the government should address urgent need by increasing funding for school guidance counsellors immediately.

"It's important that government invest funding into access to talking therapies through primary, intermediate and secondary schools, and action should be taken sooner rather than later."

Toi Ohomai student association president Emire Khan said she was in full support of the inquiry because mental health would affect all of us.

The student support at the institute was multifaceted with counsellors, student engagement supervisors and the student pulse.

"We are trying to target as much as we can and have people in different positions to pick up these ones that need help and support.

"Today as a student they will be living in a situation with financial stress or studying stress," Khan said.

"We need to be ready, available to sit down and listen to them."

A database of community support networks was also utilised if the institute did not feel like they could support that student.

But Khan said the concept of whānau support was the most successful with students.

"Everybody is under a lot of stress because they are too much in a hurry to just sit down and talk with their family."

Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson was excited that mental health would not be neglected any longer.

He said no political party could take the moral high-ground but service providers including himself would keep the pressure on political decision-makers to overcome barriers in implementing the recommendations.

"It's time to stop trading insults and start working together, across parties, across government agencies and across communities and commit to doing better. Let's get on with it.

"The government have been waiting for the Inquiry, and the Inquiry has instructed them to stop delaying and get going. There is no further justification for delay, too much time and too many lives have been lost."

The Government would formally respond to the report's findings by March next year.

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 111.

If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:

LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234