Thursday, 10 September 2020

An honest conversation about mental health

“The ACT Party has tonight launched our Mental Health Policy with an honest online conversation,” says ACT Deputy Leader and Mental Health Spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“On World Suicide Prevention Day, it’s especially important to acknowledge the struggles that people are facing, but also to provide positive solutions.

“Our online conversation heard heartfelt stories from our candidates including Ruawai dairy farmer Mark Cameron who knows the struggles our rural sector faces. He told us ‘The simple fact is, farmers are bloody good people. They don’t get the support, they don’t know how to ask for the support, but more than anything they don’t know how to engage with their peers and say, ‘look it’s alright that you’re not feeling alright.’ So, we’ve got to fix it.’

“We also heard from Taupo candidate David Freeman who has suffered from PTSD, our Welfare Spokesperson Karen Chhour who was a foster child and former Youth Aid Officer and Nelson candidate Chris Baillie.

“Talking about his experiences volunteering at KidsLine, ACT Leader David Seymour said, ‘no matter how bad it may seem, whatever you're dealing with now may seem insurmountable, it's important that people suffering from mental health problems know that they can grow through it.  There is help available, there needs to be more and we are listening to you - And that's why today is especially important.’

“Our solution to reforming mental health is to create a new entity called Mental Health and Addiction New Zealand (MHANZ).

"The Government has established a Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, but it does not have real power to improve choice or establish a clear, nationwide approach to tackling mental health and addiction.

"ACT would give the Commission the power to transform mental health and addiction services by taking the $2 billion per year currently spent through the Ministry of Health and DHBs and channelling it to providers and patients through an upgraded Commission. The Commission would be renamed Mental Health and Addiction New Zealand (MHANZ).

"MHANZ would not be a provider of services, but a world-class commissioning agency that assesses individual needs and contracts the best providers for a person’s therapy and care. It would put people at the heart of the system.

"MHANZ would develop expertise in evaluating where the money is going and what services work based on evidence and data. It would issue clear and certain contracts to service providers while evaluating the outcomes and quality of care.

"Any provider that meets strict criteria would be able to register with MHANZ to provide treatment and care. Funding for services would be determined by and attached to the care of individuals and their needs. MHANZ would carefully monitor providers to ensure New Zealanders are receiving high quality care.

"Patients would be able to choose any registered provider for their immediate care, providing greater autonomy, or would be referred to a specific provider in cases where a person lacks the capacity to do so or requires specialised treatment.

“ACT understands that mental health is an issue that can no longer be ignored. Our candidates understand the struggles that New Zealanders are facing. Our system doesn’t need tinkering, it needs a major overhaul and ACT has the solution.”

Our policy can be found here

The video is on the ACT Party Facebook Page and YouTube channel.