100 signatures reached
To: The Government, Prime Minister, and House of Representatives
Mental Health Policy Reform: An Open Letter to the Government
In the shadows of election year we need to recognise that Mental Health Care should not be devalued to a simple political issue. It is a fundamental human right. The Mental Health Matters Initiative presents four policy demands that the government must implement to create our vision for a safer, caring, and empathetic mental health sector.
POLICY 1: ESTABLISH A MINISTER OF MENTAL HEALTH
The Mental Health Matters Initiative demands that the Government establishes a Minister of Mental Health, who works alongside the Ministry of Health.
Under the current status-quo, mental health policy and accountability falls to the Minister of Health. It is unreasonable to expect efficient and critical policy change to occur with a Minister who is responsible for all aspects of our health policy, both physical and mental.
A separate Minister of MentalHealth needs to be established. They will work alongside the Ministry and Minister of Health to ensure a direct line of accountability and responsibility for mental health policies. This is crucial if our government wants to make good on their promises of protecting our nation's mental wellbeing.
POLICY 2: INVEST IN THE WORKFORCE
The Mental Health Matters Initiative demands the Government to invest in creating more pathways into mental health work, including apprenticeships with those of lived mental health experience or those passionate about the cause.
The report, He Ara Oranga, accounts for the ever declining state of the mental health workforce. It mentions the lack of staff, burnout, and an inability to bring in enough new workers to match demand.
In order to achieve a functioning mental health system, we need a healthy mental health workforce. The government needs to begin seriously investing in new initiatives which encourage members of communities to help those in their area. With appropriate training, we can begin to balance out the amount of demand, with the right amount of workers. This will contribute to an overall healthier workforce who is able to give better service and care to all who need it.
POLICY 3: INVEST IN COMMUNITY BASED CARE
The Mental Health Matters Initiative demands the Government to invest in community based mental health care programs and increase subsidies for private services.
People are more likely to access care if it is located within a safe, familiar environment. Therefore, we demand the government to invest in community, local, mental health care services such as: local therapists/counsellors; care provided around community hubs (Churches, Marae, etc.); and Youth One Stop Shops.
Investment would look like a significant increase in funding for community mental health care providers and 10 - 20 sessions with a local, private therapist/counsellor fully subsidised by the government. This will increase accessibility and support in places where people feel comfortable, strengthening our pathways to care.
Subsidies have proven to be effective as long as the right provisions are in place to ensure that it is going to the people who need it most. For example, priority based on those with lower incomes, who are less likely to be able to afford private services.
POLICY 4: REFORM THE SCHOOL CURRICULUM
The Mental Health Matters Initiative demands the Government to reform the current Mental Health curriculum, so that our young people can develop a comprehensive and sensitive understanding of mental health.
The way to break stigma is through education. We need to be teaching students; the signs that someone, or themselves, are struggling; how to get help (within processes specific to that community); and finally, what the process of getting help looks like.
Discussions regarding mental wellbeing need to be happening at all levels through public education, as mental health affects all of us, regardless of age.
Through improved education standards, we can expect our young people to develop a more sensitive understanding of mental health, which will contribute to a positive mental health space in Aotearoa and break stigma.
Why is this important?
The Mental Health Matters Initiative is a group of youth activists who have come together to fight for better mental health care in Aotearoa. We believe in the power of youth voice and experience and we are demanding the government to reform their Mental Health Policy. For years young people have been left to navigate an overworked and underfunded Mental Health System. Current and past Governments have handled the Mental Health Crisis with apathy, leaving behind a dysfunctional system.
The Mental Health Matters Initiative holds a vision for what our mental health care system should look like (MHMI - Mission Statement):
1) Empathetic Providers and Leaders. We need empathetic leaders and mental health providers that work hard to ensure that every young person is able to access the care that they deserve, and understands the nuances and trials that come with every individual mental health journey. We need the Government to create policy that protects not only its patients needing care, but the workers who supply it.
2) Accessible Care. Everyone needs to be able to access the care that they need in a simple, stress-free way. We want to create viable pathways to care through policy and breaking Mental Health stigma.
3) Fair and Equitable Treatment. Access to treatment and care should be fair and equitable. Everyone should have access to the care that they deserve and that distribution of resources is fair on not only patients but workers.
The current status-quo is not good enough. Experts, young people, workers, and those currently trying to navigate the system are demanding better. It is time to listen.
We demand the government to implement these policies to ensure a functioning and supportive mental health system in Aotearoa.You have ignored us for too long, and this is a matter of life or death for many.
The Mental Health Matters Initiative