Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi—engari he toa takitini ke!
Essentially I never stand alone. The person you see, or support, or uplift, or judge, or diminish is never just me. Never just one. What you do to me, you do to my entire ancestry. For I am just one of the most recent physical embodiments of them. A singular link in a timeless chain. The countless warriors, chiefs, healers and helpers, cooks and cleaners, everyone.
People’s Mental Health Report (p.23)
For anyone with any long-term involvement to do with Aotearoa New Zealand’s mental health system, it is all too familiar. Back in 1996 the Mason Report recommended a new organisation for mental health, increased ring-fenced funding, and an anti-stigma and discrimination campaign. The recent less formal People’s Mental Health Report bears some striking similarities.
Based on over 500 stories submitted online, familiar concerns appear – inadequate funding for mental health with the ring-fencing being undermined; the need for an independent body overseeing the mental health system, perhaps similar to the Mason inspired Mental Health Commission abolished in 2012; concerns about staff shortages and burnout, internationally high suicide rates, access to early interventions, culturally appropriate services; effective services for children and young people; and, mental health promotion and illness prevention.
A new approach could be based on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It would also do well to recognise the links between other issues which significantly impact on mental health, e.g. housing, incomes or the lack of them, and family violence.