Time for a New Approach to Mental Health and Addictions in Aotearoa
Press Release: Kyle MacDonald
Tuesday 4th December, 2018
Today “He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction” was released, the culmination
of over 5200 submissions, and 26 public meetings into the state of Mental Health and Addictions treatment in New
The report focusses on the need to expand access to treatment, along with a wholesale change to the way that mental
health and wellbeing is treated in New Zealand. This includes taking a whole of Government approach to wellbeing, and
establishing a Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission. It also makes clear that our approach needs to put “people at the
centre” of any approach.
“It’s hugely encouraging to see the Review panel so clearly put people, and their whānau at the heart of this report,
recognize much of the system needs to change, and that there is a clear and urgent need for greatly expanded services to
cater to those with so called ‘mild to moderate’ mental health difficulties.” Says Kyle MacDonald, psychotherapist and
mental health advocate.
There is clear recognition in the report that our current services are inadequate, and their focus too narrow to capture
the needs of a growing number suffering psychological distress and addiction in our communities. Additional funding and
new services, especially at the community level, are recommended to address this unmet need.
It is further recommended that the Mental Health Act and the way we administer compulsory treatment be repealed, and
replaced with an approach that minimizes coercive treatment, along with decriminalising addiction and treating drug use
as a health, not a criminal matter. A clear target for suicide reduction is also recommended.
“I believe it’s now time for us all to rally behind this report, and to use this as an opportunity to radically re-shape
how we talk about, how we treat, and how as a nation we respond to psychological distress. In many ways his process
commenced in 2016 with the People’s Mental Health Review, and it’s now time for the Labour led Government to put their
money where their mouth is and deliver what we can truly call a People’s Mental Health System.” Says MacDonald.