An independent Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission is a step closer after it unanimously passed its first vote in Parliament today.
The Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill lays the groundwork for establishing the Commission as a fully independent crown entity – delivering on a key recommendation of He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction.
Health Minister Dr David Clark says creating an independent Commission is a sign of just how seriously the Government takes these challenges.
“Mental health and addiction issues touch just about everyone in New Zealand at some stage in their life. We know we can do better supporting people in distress.
“As a Government we’re making a record investment into improving long-neglected mental health and addiction services. We’re making progress building new frontline services, strengthening our workforce and upgrading acute facilities.
“An independent Commission will play a vital role providing oversight of that work and can hold the government of the day to account.
“The Commission’s work will span all government and non-government contributors to mental health and wellbeing. It will look beyond the health service to the wider drivers of wellbeing – such as housing, education and employment.
“It will be able to focus on prevention of mental ill-health and distress, and the promotion of mental wellbeing. And perhaps the most important of all, it will advocate for service improvement for people who live with mental health and addiction issues so they can get the support they need.
“All three parties of government campaigned on re-establishing the Mental Health Commission, which was wound up in 2012 by the previous government, because we knew it would make a difference.
“It was part of the coalition agreement between the Labour Party and New Zealand First, and I want to thank my Coalition colleagues for their ongoing advocacy on this issue,” Dr Clark said.
The new Commission is expected to be fully established by February 2021. In the meantime, an initial Commission is already up and running.