20 Apr 2021

Mental health campaigner Jane Stevens 'hopeful' after meeting with minister Andrew Little

4:08 pm on 20 April 2021

A Waikato campaigner for changes in the care of mental health patients, support for whānau and accountability from DHBs says she is hopeful after meeting with Health Minister Andrew Little.

Jane Steven's gave evidence on the opening day of an inquest into her son's death in March 2015.

Jane Stevens giving evidence on the opening day of an inquest into her son's death in March 2015. Photo: RNZ

Jane Stevens met with Little on Monday night, a year after requesting such a meeting. Little became minister in November 2020.

"The minister was very sincere in his apology for it to have taken over a year before we were able to get to meet with him," she said.

"We left the meeting feeling very positive. We felt that he was very open to our concerns and had a good understanding of the situation we were in."

She said three concerns were discussed - the need for an urgent investigation into Waikato mental health services, the need for an independent body to carry out reviews in the sector, and the lack of support for families.

Stevens said the meeting was the first time she had felt really listened to after years of campaigning.

Her son Nicky took his own life while in the care of the Waikato DHB in 2015.

"Left felling pretty hopeful that some positive action will come out of the meeting," she said.

"Obviously the proof is in the pudding. My expectation is that we will continue to engage with the minister and his office in regard to how these things go forward."

She said the minister agreed to look carefully at the issues raised and to come back with a detailed response.

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