The Ministry provides mental health policy advice to the Minister of Health. It is responsible for implementation of government policy through collaborative efforts with district health boards, and for the administration of mental health legislation.
Rising to the Challenge: The Mental Health and Addiction Service Development Plan, 2012–2017.
In November 2012, Cabinet approved the 5-year strategy Rising to the Challenge: The Mental Health and Addiction Service Development Plan, 2012–2017. This policy aims to ensure that New Zealanders have better access to quality mental health and addiction services. Health service providers will work alongside individuals, families, whānau and communities so that people with mental health or addiction issues are able to get the help they need sooner and recover faster when they are unwell.
Management of the legislative environment
The Ministry also focuses on advice to government on, and administration of, the legislative environment in which mental health services operate and which affects people with experience of mental illness and addiction and their whānau, friends and communities.
Its work seeks to ensure protection of both human rights and safety of individuals and communities, and to achieve balance where different rights appear to be in conflict.
Recovery approach to mental illness
About 47% of New Zealanders will experience a mental illness and/or an addiction at some time in their lives, with one in five people affected within one year. The impact on the individual and their family will vary from person to person, and may be extensive.
Mental distress and mental illness can be challenging for those experiencing it, as well as for those who are supporting them. There are a wide range of supports and treatments available to help through this period, and recovery from this distress is possible. The Ministry of Health supports a 'recovery' approach to mental distress and mental illness, which means working towards supporting an individual in a way which minimises the level of distress and impact on their day-to-day lives as much as possible.
For most people, mental illness is usually ‘episodal’, in nature and a good recovery is made, in a timeframe that varies from person to person. The Ministry believes that people who have experience of mental illness and/or addictions should be able to make informed decisions that promote their mental health and wellbeing. This means that all mental health service providers must operate their services in ways that assist recovery for service users.
Like Minds, Like Mine project
The stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness can be a major barrier to a person’s recovery. Therefore, in 1997, the Ministry of Health initiated the Like Minds, Like Mine project to reduce the stigma of mental illness and discrimination experienced by people with mental illness.
The project’s vision is to create a nation that values and includes people with experience of mental illness. It funds a range of activities, at both a national and local level, aimed at improving attitudes and behaviour of individuals, groups and organisations towards people with experience of mental illness. For further information about the project, go to the Like Minds, Like Mine website.