24 May 2017

Mental health: 'You need to do something different', MPs told

8:34 pm on 24 May 2017

Dunedin woman Corinda Taylor, who lost a son to suicide, is pleading with MPs to launch an inquiry into "broken" mental health services.

Corinda Taylor speaking at the select committee today.

Corinda Taylor, right, told the select committee a inquiry was needed so there could be better outcomes for everyone. Photo: RNZ / Karen Brown

Corinda Taylor helped found the Life Matters group following the death of her 20-year-old son, Ross, by suicide in 2013.

In an emotionally-charged session, she told the health select committee she would rather not be sitting in front of the group.

But she said it was important someone spoke out.

"We are asking for an urgent independent nation-wide inquiry and also a Royal Commission of Inquiry into our mental health services.

"We want to uncover and expose the weaknesses of the system so that we can improve and have a better outcome for all of us."

She said the group were not left-wing or anti-government.

"We are here to sincerely ask you to do the right thing".

Corinda Taylor said many people have told the group they simply could not access services.

And her son's experience was a prime example.

"The system's under pressure and it's very difficult for families to get support especially in crisis. Services appear to be fragmented and siloed.

"Our jails and state services will be investigated by the Ombudsman and it will be exposed, so why not just do the inquiry and do the right thing for all of us?"

She said mental health services were "broken", but politicians were "buffered from what is going on".

"Doing the same thing with more money is not going to produce better results. You need to do something different, you need to listen to us."

She said better record-keeping in hospital mental health services, training of more psychologists and wider access to counselling are all urgently needed.

Corinda Taylor from Life Matters delivering a petition to Parliament.

Corinda Taylor from Life Matters delivering a petition to Parliament. Photo: RNZ / Karen Brown

The group's petition, signed by 1740 people, was delivered to Māori Party MP Marama Fox in November.

Corinda Taylor urged the committee to launch an inquiry, as it had with a petition regarding voluntary euthanasia.

The committee chair, Simon O'Connor, told RNZ it would consider that.

"That's certainly something which this committee can consider doing, and [what] we'll most likely be doing is having a discussion about whether that's one of the avenues to take in response to Corinda Taylor's petition."

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7)

Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz

What's Up: online chat (7pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 children's helpline (1pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-10pm weekends)

Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)

Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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