Real work now begins on mental health reform
IHC fully supports and welcomes the findings of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, and says now is the time to act so people with intellectual disabilities and their families have improved access to mental health support and services.
IHC Director of Advocacy Trish Grant is pleased the report recommends a holistic approach that begins with the person and not the diagnosis or funding stream.
“This really echoes what IHC has been calling for, and it’s great to see that all of our recommendations for positive change have been picked up," says Trish.
“It’s no surprise to us that there are signs of structural issues with the DHB models and primary health sectors.
“Now the real work begins, and acknowledgement of these existing shortfalls is a step in the right direction.”
People with intellectual disabilities are among the most disadvantaged and experience some of the poorest health and wellbeing outcomes of any population group in New Zealand.
Trish says this population group often faces a lack of recognition of mental health problems, difficulty accessing services, responses that are not best practice, uncoordinated services, and are not counted or visible in reporting.
“The first hurdle faced by people with intellectual disabilities is getting mental health problems recognised so they can access help when needed. Presenting problems are often dismissed as being ‘behavioural’ and a result of the person’s intellectual disability, rather than indicative of an underlying mental health issue.”
Trish says she is pleased to see in the report an emphasis on community and expanded access to services and supports.
“Greater investment in community resources will mean people can access support earlier, and on an ongoing basis, when and where they need to. But this will only be sustainable over the long term with a cross-government approach to supports and service resourcing.”
IHC also fully supports repealing and replacing the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992, and that there be an end to seclusion and restraint.
“We only have to look at the recent Ashley Peacock case to see that a human rights-based approach that promotes wellbeing and connection with community is where we need to be as a country.”