"It needs to be tightened up" - Expert weighs in on new mental health plan

By Mare Haimona-Riki
Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson.  

A ten-year plan to improve mental health outcomes has been announced this week, involving government agencies working together, as well as an external monitoring group.

Kia Manawanui is the name of the plan which is a response to the 2018 He Ara Oranga mental health inquiry. It calls on all sectors to work together to better support those who experience mental distress.

Mental Health Foundation chief executive, Shaun Robinson, who says this new plan gives him hope of improvement, made his confidence known at the launch earlier this week.

“I do have hope and, I even said at the launch, that this is a job well done,” says Robinson.

“But, equally, there is a big job to do. And this report gives a much clearer view of what we’re aiming for…. And it, actually, finally does get what He Ara Oranga was calling for.”

Health Minister Andrew Little says it will take New Zealand towards a “population approach” to mental health that looked to increase not just mental health support but also tackle the drivers of mental ill-health.

The all-important mental health ring-fence, which sets the parameters of how much money district health boards must spend on mental health, has not been changed. The Government says it may change that ring-fence as part of its overhaul of DHBs.

Robinson adds that he is concerned about the lack of specifics in the plan, including milestones and timeframes, saying “it needs to be tightened up.”  

“This is nearly three years on from the inquiry which is good but it’s not good enough, and the other thing is that there are still a lot of risks and concerns about this plan.