10 Oct 2017

Petition calling for mental health inquiry delived to Beehive

From Checkpoint, 5:53 pm on 10 October 2017

A family who lost their 15-year-old daughter to suicide has made an emotional plea to parliament for an urgent inquiry into the country's mental health crisis. 

They delivered a 30,000 signature petition on the steps of the Beehive today as part of World Mental Health Day. 

A mother stricken with grief was one of dozens who attended today's presentation of a petition seeking change for those suffering from mental illness. 

Hana Reedy lost her teenage daughter Ariana two months ago.

Ariana committed suicide after multiple attempts, and Mrs Reedy said the system repeatedly failed them.

"My seven-year-old son saw the first time my daughter tried to kill herself. We got no help from mental health, the DHB, nothing."

Mrs Reedy believed her daughter's age also played a role in her lack of care and said she was unable to be put in a mental health unit as she was too young.

Green Party leader James Shaw received the petition from Mrs Reedy and her husband Api Nasedra.

Labour leader Jacinda Arden also attended, along with other Green Party MPs, the Yes We Can Coalition, as well as those with their own personal experiences in dealing with mental illness. 

Debbie Leyland, a spokesperson for UCAN, which is part of the Yes We Can Coalition, believed tragic stories like Ariana's will become increasingly common.

She said a radical new approach was urgently needed.

"Young people, especially now with all the cyber bullying, need our help. I think it's a good idea having a nurse or social worker in each school. There's so much pressure on our young people and very little hope for the future."

The national secretary of the Public Service Association, Erin Polaczuk, said their members were telling them a squeeze on funding was putting increasing strain on those in the mental health sector.

"Those pressures mean they can't deliver to members of the public, members of the community, the types of services they wish they could. They're afraid people are falling through the gaps, they're afraid some people are being turned away at the door who ought to be having care." 

Hastings mother Mrs Reedy hoped no other parent would have to endure her loss, although she had heard many stories similar to her own.

Mrs Reedy hoped the next government will take notice of the 30,000 people who signed the petition, and make sure those with suicidal thoughts get the care they need rather than become another sombre statistic.