Mental health inquiry listens to new voices

22 May 2018
Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath smiling in the sunshine in front of some lush foliage

Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath has been travelling around New Zealand to engage with communities as part of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction.

The Inquiry was established by the New Zealand Government in response to widespread concern about mental health and addiction services in the mental health sector and the broader community.

The Inquiry team has been engaging widely to find out what is going on in mental health and addiction in New Zealand, and how communities have been tackling these issues.

They aim to make pragmatic and implementable recommendations that build upon the good work that is already being done to set a clear direction for the next five to ten years to make real, positive change.

They have been holding public forums and visiting places like maraes, prisons, hospitals and tertiary institutions.

Jemaima says that "it's been really intense of late, going around the country and engaging with all walks of life".

"It's been great, because we’ve just been listening. Because of the way we’re engaging, lots and lots of people have come forward."

"This is a once in a generation opportunity. It’s a really meaningful process that hasn’t been done this way before — nothing is off the table."

They have been engaging with both experts in this area, and the lived experience of people like young mothers, the homeless, the rainbow community, and Māori and Pacific communities.

"We're hearing voices that we normally haven't before."

Jemaima reports that as well as discussing issues, they are hearing a lot of solutions to mental health and addiction problems generated in this communities. Indigenous models are featuring prominently in what they are hearing.

The team of six is led by Professor Ron Paterson from the Faculty of Law, and Jemaima notes how impressive it is that two of its members are from the University of Auckland: "that’s pretty cool".

"It's a great team and it's so exciting to be a part of. It's really opened my eyes to how we could get more involved with our communities."

After submissions close at 5pm on Tuesday 5 June 2018, the team will deliberate and discuss the findings in public forums in preparation for presenting a report to Minister of Health Dr David Clark on Wednesday 31 October 2018.

There are all sorts of ways to make a submission to the Inquiry, and Jemaima encourages students and staff of the University of Auckland to submit.

"The University should make a submission!"

Have your say in the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction