He Ara Oranga – Pathways to Wellness

The Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, led by Professor Ron Paterson, has been released, with 40 recommendations within 12 broad areas.

Inquiry panel L-R: Sir Mason Durie, Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, Professor Ron Paterson (Chair), Minister Clark, Dean Rangihuna, Dr Barbara Disley and Josiah Tualamali’i.

Former Health and Disability Commissioner, Professor Ron Patterson, from the Auckland Law School, chaired the six-person inquiry team that consisted of Sir Mason Durie, Dr Barbara Disley, Dean Rangihuna, Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, and Josiah Tualamali’I.

The catalyst for the inquiry was widespread concern about mental health services within the mental health sector and the broader community, and calls for a wide-ranging inquiry from service users, their families and whānau, people affected by suicide, people working in health, media, Iwi and advocacy groups.


The catalyst for the inquiry was widespread concern about mental health services within the mental health sector and the broader community...

Mental health and addiction problems touch the lives of many people in New Zealand, with one in five people experiencing mental illness or significant mental distress annually.

The inquiry team held over 400 meetings across the country. More than 2,000 people attended the meetings with over 5,200 submissions received.

Among the report’s findings were that while New Zealand’s mental health and addiction system had valuable strengths, it was under pressure and unsustainable in its current form.

Further, despite the current level of investment, the country was not getting the outcomes it wanted for its people. The outcomes for Māori were worse than for the overall population, and Māori were subject to much greater use of compulsory treatment and seclusion.

There were also unmet mental health needs for Pacific peoples, disabled people, Rainbow communities, the prison population, and refugees and migrants.

The report noted there was no continuum of care due to key components of the system being missing, plus for many people with common, disabling problems such as stress, depression, anxiety, trauma and substance abuse, there were few options available to them through the public system.

The report’s recommendations covered 12 broad areas, including expanding access and choice to transform primary health care so that people could get skilled help in their local communities; the need to strengthen the NGO sector; the need to take a whole-of-government approach to wellbeing; facilitate mental health promotion and prevention; place people at the centre to strengthen consumer voice and experience; take a stricter regulatory approach to the sale and supply of alcohol and other drugs; implement a national suicide prevention strategy; reform the Mental Health Act to reflect a human rights approach consistent with New Zealand’s international treaty obligations; establish a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission to act as a watchdog and provide leadership and oversight of mental health and wellbeing in New Zealand; and establish a cross-party working group on mental health and wellbeing to reflect the shared commitment of different political parties.

To read the whole report visit https://mentalhealth.inquiry.govt.nz/