Yet another inquiry into Mental Health & Addiction was launched here in New Zealand, in January 2018 and impressively covers every aspect. The budget is a cool $6.521 MILLION. The Minister for Health, Hon. Dr David Clarke has been tasked with presenting the findings of the Inquiry to the government. It's a mammoth undertaking.
However, we have found the structure of the inquiry to be significantly flawed and that it urgently needs to be addressed so that the most accurate overview can be achieved for the sake of all those who are living with Mental Health & Addiction, and their caregivers.
We noted that only a relatively small, cross-section of those involved with the mental health sector, i.e. service providers and their users, were included in the process. We found that the ratio of professionals/experts to service users (patients, clients, consumers, and caregivers) to be woefully imbalanced, which we find to be completely unacceptable.
In the interest of transparency; below are the guidelines and boundaries for the Inquiry as set by the government.
The Inquiry's Terms of Reference were set by the Government | Mental Health Inquiry 2018
One of the first most noticeable points of interest is; a part of the framework for the inquiry is the Mental health (Compulsory Assessment and treatment) Act 1992. The act is more than a quarter of a century old, and it is difficult to believe it is still relevant today. Clearly, Mental Health and Addiction have increased to crisis level in spite of this 1992 Act.
It is also noted that the Inquiry sought $6.521 MILLION to cover the costs!
The breakdown of which is as follows:
$0.789 (over 3/4's of a MILLION) in fees for the Inquiry Chair and up to five members.
$5.732 MILLION to cover the cost of Inquiry staff, travel and accommodation, professional fees and other operating costs associated with the Inquiry.
The Chair, Professor Ron Paterson ~ $1,400 per day.
Members: Dr Barbara Disley, Sir Mason Durie, Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, Josiah Tualamali'i and Dean Rangihuna ~ $975 per person per day.
What I will say is, the people on the Inquiry panel are all dedicated and knowledgeable in their field and are indeed an impressive lineup with enough collective years between them (in championing Mental Health and Addiction prevention and well being) to fill three lifetimes. Very well appointed, in my opinion.
However, at the other end of the financial spectrum, those involved in Peer Support Groups (who had been consulted with and tasked by the Inquiry to gather information from members of their groups) were compensated for any official meetings but had to pay expenses out of their own pockets to gather the requested data! These people are usually on a meagre income to start with but are the ones in the trenches tirelessly fighting for their own future well-being, as well as that of others 24/7 while receiving little or no reimbursement at all. The extra financial burden of costs (including child care) have caused considerable hardship for many, and in some cases has caused their mental health and well-being to deteriorate. Unlike those heading the Inquiry listed above and their staff who have been entirely taken care of financially during this process.
THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE BY ANY STANDARD
All said and done, though the sentiment of the Inquiry is both welcomed and long overdue. On the ground the whispers among the people are deafening. There is little or no trust at all in the system or the service providers. People have become so despondent and demoralised that their well-being is being compromised and FEEL they are rapidly deteriorating and descending into an abyss.
One of the biggest, enduring complaint is the lack of communication, leaving most people feeling unimportant; that they don't matter. The desperation is palpable. The silent screams are harrowing; you can see it in their eyes, hear it in their voice. Caregivers too are descending into their own abyss of mental health despair. Both sufferers and caregivers are exhausted and FEEL there is no hope left. There is nowhere to turn and no one to turn to. The FEELING of hopelessness is overwhelming.
It's time to Step Out of the Shadows of Mental Health & Addiction. To be an active part of the solution. To Speak Truth to Power. We hear you.
If you have your story to tell, let this site be your voice. If your experience with the Mental Health & Addiction sector has been distressing, we want to hear from you. Help us to help others.
All stories will be published on here (with your permission). You can put your name to it or remain anonymous. All submissions will be sent to the Inquiry and also to the government. There is no time to waste. Join the Movement now.