Mental health and addiction

We’re working to transform New Zealand’s mental health and addiction system.

Video:Planning transformation of NZ’s approach to mental wellbeing

[Toni Gutschlag to camera]

I'm Toni Gutschlag, the Deputy Director-General for Mental Health and Addiction Directorate within the Ministry of Health.

I'm just here to provide a bit of an update about where we are at with the long-term pathway. You may recall that the requirement for a long-term pathway, or a guidance document with a 10-year horizon, was part of the government's response to He Ara Oranga, recognising the transformation of how we respond to mental health and addiction.

It's going to take quite some time and we need to set out guidance on the sense of direction of how we're going to approach this as a country.

The long-term pathway is a 10-year plan which will span all of government, all of community, and provide that direction setting around our response to He Ara Oranga.

It's going to be quite a high-level document that will enable us to ensure that we are meeting our accountabilities in terms of the challenges that He Ara Oranga set and, like I said, provide that sense of direction around where we're heading.

We've had a number of plans and strategies for the mental health and addiction system for many years and so it is timely that we are refreshing our approach to that.

A transformation requires a different kind of approach to direction setting from where we may have been what we may have tried in the past in terms of a more traditional strategy document, and then an implementation plan.

We're really mindful of the recommendations that have been, that were set out in He Ara Oranga and certainly the long-term pathway will recognise the intent behind He Ara Oranga and be inclusive of the recommendations, but not necessarily address each one individually.

We're not starting from scratch in terms of the development of a long-term pathway there have been extensive engagement processes and opportunities over recent years. Probably the most intensive was He Ara ORanga, but we've also had other processes or pieces of work that have had a lot of engagement opportunities, including Whakamaua, Kia Kaha, Kia Māia, Kia Ora Aotearoa - that is the national psychosocial response plan to COVID and if you're not familiar with that plan it's really good idea to check it out because it is inclusive of He Ara Orana as a short to medium term plan. We were very deliberate in our intention to incorporate He Ara Orana requirements and the psychosocial response requirements into a single plan as it just it wasn't feasible to have two national plans focused on well-being for our country at that particular time.

Now we're ready to have a longer time horizon and so we are checking in again to make sure that what we've heard in previous processes and engagement opportunities and what's been identified in those key strategic documents are still priorities.

We've all been through a lot in the last 12 months. It’s been unprecedented, the experience of a global pandemic, and we're taking this time to check in and connect with stakeholders very broadly and ensure that the work that we've been doing the things that we've heard from you in the past remain current and can be built into that long-term pathway document.

One of the things about the long-term pathway is as I said it is going to be it's quite a high level document to guide government organisations and community organisations on where we're heading. It's not necessarily going to have the detail in it around types of services or new models and ways of working. There's another very significant piece of work that we are just starting - what we're currently calling a national services framework document. That's identifying the core components of a contemporary mental health system in Aotearoa at this time. It probably equates to something that a really important document that we had in the 1990s called Blueprint 1. We're looking to essentially create our next version of a blueprint or a guidance document for services recognising that it would be very helpful to clarify which services should be available regionally, nationally, locally. Models of care, guidance around the service specifications and monitoring and so that's a process that's just got underway and there'll be lots of opportunity for engagement, co-design, informing that piece of work from now until…for the better part of this year.

One of the things I'm really mindful of as we talk about transformation or we hear others talking about transformation is that it's not…it's not something that can be led from the top necessarily. Transformation requires all of us in the system acting and participating and leading differently.

So while these documents are critically important, and we really welcome your engagement and encourage that, I would also encourage us all to think about what can we do outside of these processes? What's our personal contribution to the transformation? What can we lead our organisations and our colleagues, or participate in, that is going to help create a different future?

Because I think that was the challenge that He Ara Orana identified is that there's a requirement for us all to be supporting the transformation and helping to bring that to life.

And as well as the work that we do in a professional capacity and thinking about the transformation and how we can be participating differently in our collective future for the mental health system, I'm also mindful of the real focus in He Ara Orana on wellbeing and what that means moving from a service orientation to a society that is aware of the importance of mental wellbeing in the same way as we are around physical wellbeing. So making it easier to have those conversations, making it more a routine activity to think about our mental wellbeing and having a range of tools and places to go to access information.

Video: Deputy Director-General, Mental Health and Addiction, Toni Gutschlag shares how the Ministry is planning for ongoing transformation of New Zealand’s approach to mental wellbeing.

Developing the Long-Term Pathway

We’re developing the long-term pathway for transforming the mental health and addiction system over the next 10 years. 

We’re building on what we’ve heard through engagement with the sector, stakeholders and communities over the last 18 months.

Learn more about where we are at.

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