10 Oct 2016

Three hundred accounts of mental health failings

From Nine To Noon, 9:08 am on 10 October 2016

The release of the personal stories of 300 mental health patients, their families and workers show New Zealand's mental health system is in crisis, a mental health activist says.

Are we failing people with mental health issues?

Are we failing people with mental health issues? Photo: 123RF

Mental health activist group People's Review is campaigning for a government-backed national review of mental health services.

The campaign's director, Laura Rapira, told Nine To Noon the submissions showed the mental health system was in crisis.

"Our submissions are beginning to paint a picture of long wait times ... of services stretched to breaking point, of families' fear and frustration when their loved ones are at risk, and of professionals exhausted and burned out," Ms Rapira said.

One submission read: "I'd first been diagnosed with clinical depression 16 years ago. I phoned the CAT crisis team and got an appointment to see them. I was interviewed by a psychologist who referred me to the area coordinator for mental health service. The waiting went on and on for days, weeks, months."

People's Review spokesperson Kyle MacDonald, a psychotherapist, said the group hoped to act as a lightning rod to bring more people forward to talk about their experiences of the system.  

"We're hoping to get organisations like unions, like professional bodies, on board.

"Our hope is that it becomes really apparent that, actually, what we need is a government-backed well-funded national review of mental health services."

The Ministry of Health seemed determined to continue down the path that they were on, Mr MacDonald said.

People's Review would continue to collect people's experiences until the end of next month, he said.

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