4 Jul 2018

Inquiry on mental health sector emphasises urgent call for change

10:13 am on 4 July 2018

Christchurch locals, among other regions, are pleading for urgent change in the mental health and addiction sectors, a panellist forum has found.

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People attending public forums are opening up about the shortfalls in the mental health and addiction sectors. Photo: RNZ/Claire Eastham-Farrelly

About 160 people attended a meeting in Christchurch last night, which is the last major centre to be visited for forums as part of a government inquiry into the mental health and addiction sectors.

Panelist Doctor Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, who is co-head of the School for Māori and Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland, said the Christchurch meeting was particularly boisterous.

She said it was clear that people in the city felt over-stretched and under-resourced.

"Right across the country we have felt the pain in people's voices, heard the frustrations, anguish and pleas for help, and tonight's hui was no different," Dr Tiatia-Seath said.

There was plenty of fire in the belly and plenty of hope for change, she said.

"We're under the pump in terms of people are being absolutely honest and direct now. That enough is enough and the government needs to do something about it."

The meetings started in Palmerston North in April, and the final meetings will be held in coming weeks in Greymouth on 3 July, Kāikoura 4 July, Clevedon 13 July and Kāpiti on 30 July.

The inquiry was one of the Labour government's election promises.

It is hearing submissions from a range of groups including DHBs, the police and judges.

The panel is travelling the country hearing from patients, staff, those in the community about problems and possible solutions to improve services for patients and their families.

The panel will present its report to the government by October 2018.

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