Ministry Canvasses New Approaches To Promoting Mental Health
The Ministry of Health is calling for ideas from the community about the best ways to put energy and resources into
improving the mental health and well-being of New Zealanders.
A new national approach to promoting mental health is needed, said Deputy Director General of Public Health Don
The Ministry of Health today released a consultation document Building on Strengths: A Springboard for Action that
proposes an overall national direction for mental health promotion for the next five years. It signals a new way of
looking at mental health and well-being based on the health promotion principles of participation, ownership and
"We want to improve the ability individuals and communities have to cope with stress and pressure through developing
social support and life skills.
"The consultation document suggests ways to do this for different age and ethnic groups, such as promoting antibullying
programmes in schools, offering support programmes for adults undergoing stressful events such as divorce or bereavement
and encouraging social support networks for new mothers."
Dr Matheson said mental well-being was more than a health issue.
"We also need to work towards creating environments that promote good mental health and allow people to meet their
The document also suggests government agencies take a more co-ordinated and focused approach -- under the leadership of
the health sector -- as they work with communities to improve mental health.
It suggests the government agencies carefully consider how their actions affect the way people live, work, play, relate
and generally cope in society.
"The health sector can only do so much to improve the mental health and well-being of a community. Decisions made every
day by other government agencies about issues like housing and employment also have a huge impact on mental health and
we need to join forces with them."
Five public workshops are being held in different centres and submissions close on August 31.
Questions and Answers
Who produced the consultation document? More than 200 people, including Maori and Pacific Peoples, academics,
professionals and those who have been affected by mental illness have already been involved in the process. The
consultation document is the result of all their efforts and is a springboard for further ideas.
How can I get involved? The Ministry of Health is seeking comment on this consultation document which seeks your input
to set the direction for mental health promotion in New Zealand/Aotearoa. We hope you will come along to the workshops
and let us know what you think, or run your own meeting and give us feedback.
How can I get hold of the consultation document? Wickcliffe Press, PO Box 932, Dunedin Ph: (04) 496 2277 (Wellington)
Fax: (03) 479 0979 (Dunedin) Email: email@example.com Website: www.moh.govt.nz (look under Publications) Submissions
must be in by 30 August 2001
How do I run my own meeting? Alternatively, you can obtain an information pack to help you run your own meeting.
Contact: Martine O'Shea Ministry of Health PO Box 5849, Dunedin Ph: (03) 4748095 Fax: (03) 474 8582 Email:
What happens after this? From this feedback the Ministry of Health will produce a strategy for mental health promotion
to guide the sector for the next five years. What we want is a resource that will educate New Zealand about mental
health promotion and a resource to guide policy makers, District health Boards, service providers, government agencies,
etc. We expect the final document to be available by December 2001.
Where does this work fit in with other mental health activities? Mental health interventions include promotion,
prevention, early intervention, treatment and rehabilitation. Building on Strengths looks only at promotion (keeping
people well) and prevention (identifying and minimising risk factors associated with preventing illness). Another public
health project addressing mental health issues is the "Like Minds, Like Mine" project to address stigma and
discrimination against those associated with mental illness.