Āta mārie, nau mai, haere mai, tēnā koutou katoa.
Good morning everyone and welcome to the final day of The Mental Health Services Conference 2016, or perhaps better known by many, as the Themes (ThMHS) conference.
My greetings to you the service users, your whānau and families, and the mental health and addictions workforce in the various roles that you provide in delivering these much needed services.
A very warm welcome also to our Australian colleagues and all other international visitors participating in this annual conference.
I was originally extended an invitation to open your conference but was unable to due to existing commitments.
However, as Associate Health Minister with responsibility for alcohol, drugs and gambling, and formerly for mental health, I recognised the importance of this event, so I was delighted when the compromise suggestion of closing the conference was accepted.
I would like to start by acknowledging the work by the conference committee in making this a reality.
The theme for this event is “People: Authenticity starts in the heart”, the intent of which has been reflected over the past few days.
People who act with integrity, authenticity, and heartfelt actions underpinned by evidence and best practice, are well placed to establish leadership cultures that truly resonate with other people.
It is a privilege to be surrounded by such people today.
The Government’s commitment to the people of New Zealand clearly supports such leadership and much more.
In New Zealand the health sector has recently come together to develop a new strategic vision.
The New Zealand Health Strategy, launched in April this year, is guided by five strategic themes: People Powered; Closer to home; Smart system; Value and high performance and One team.
All five of these themes are important for mental health and wellbeing.
I think this conference resonates particularly well with the People Powered theme.
ThMHS is all about the people who access services along with their whānau and families, the people delivering services, the people who help guide and shape these services, the people in our communities and the people involved in the system.
All of us, I think, are aware that the current system offers both challenges and opportunities.
However, we are clear on the future we want, including the culture and values that underpin that future.
The mental health and addiction sector has been on a transformational journey over two decades to move from institutions to strong community care.
We now have a wider range of providers and settings where New Zealanders can receive mental health and addiction services.
There is also an increased focus on the expectations of people who use services and from their whānau and family who provide support.
We need to engage in a way that maximises efforts and outcomes alike in working towards the goals of helping New Zealanders get well, live well and stay well.
We know the access to specialist mental health and addiction services has increased from 2.3 per cent of the population a decade ago, to 3.5 per cent of the population in the last year.
That is an increase from around 96,000 people up to 164,000 people.
We know reducing and eventually eliminating seclusion incidents remain a sector goal and there are clear indications of improvements since the introduction of the seclusion reduction policy in 2009.
Events of seclusion, for example, have decreased from 1,075 that same year to 736 last year.
Unfortunately health outcomes are not equitable for all New Zealanders.
Mental health and wellbeing is strongly influenced by low income, unemployment, low educational achievement and a low standard of living, all of which likely contribute to poorer outcomes for those with mental health and addiction issues.
These impact on some populations more than others, for example Māori, Pacific peoples, people with disabilities and vulnerable children who have poorer health outcomes than the population on average.
A social investment approach of knowing what works, what it costs, why it works and for whom it works is essential for addressing the impact on these population groups.
Supporting the vision of the New Zealand Health Strategy that focuses on prevention, wellbeing, more integrated services, innovation, better collaboration and new ways of working to reach our most vulnerable, remains a Government funding priority.
District health boards are funded to provide health services (including mental health and addiction services) to their populations.
In 2016/17 this funding is $12.2 billion, an increase of $500m from 2015/16.
Ring-fenced expenditure for mental health services by DHBs has increased year on year.
Funding for primary mental health services has increased progressively over time from $5 million in 2005/06 to $29.3 million in 2015/16.
Overall, a significant investment into the mental health and addiction sector has resulted in a wide range of innovative approaches, specialist and community services.
To ensure success it is important to rely on each other’s efforts and value the contributions made in managing, delivering, integrating, co-ordinating, navigating and supporting each other.
When we say that ‘Authenticity starts in the heart’, perhaps no better example can be given than that of a peer supporter.
Peer support workers are powerful role models who inspire hope in those they support because they have been ‘through it’.
They have come out the other side with a sense of optimism, a shared understanding of recovery and what it can take to sustain recovery.
Having walked in their shoes, they see the person they support as a ‘person’ and not a patient.
This quote from a peer support worker says a lot, “there is a great deal of strength gained in knowing someone who has walked where you are walking, and who now has a life of their choosing”.
Peer support work involves building a trustworthy, dependable and reliable relationship with those they support and sharing genuine experiences, walking beside those they work with to support their personal and social goals through helping to navigate their communities and the health system.
Our current system has an active focus on delivering better outcomes for New Zealanders.
Many of you, for example, contribute to programmes that include: Like Minds Like Mine; Community Action Youth and Drugs; the National Depression Initiative; the Youth Mental Health Project; the strategy to prevent and minimise gambling harm; Rising to the Challenge; Supporting Parents, Healthy Children guidelines; and importantly the sector’s contributions in designing measures and key performance indicators to measure success.
Through your strong commitment in these, and other programmes, we are able to improve service delivery, experiences and outcomes for New Zealanders.
I want to reiterate that the Government is committed to supporting the improvement of mental health and wellbeing for all New Zealanders – mental health remains a priority.
I personally am a strong believer in the adage that there is no health without mental health.
The ThMHS conference provides an excellent platform for bringing you all together to stimulate debate that challenges the boundaries of present knowledge and ideas about the provision of mental health and addiction service delivery and systems.
This conference is a dedication to the combined efforts of you all and I wish you well on this final day.
I now turn to an exciting part of this morning’s address in presenting the inaugural ThMHS award.
I am pleased to present the new ThMHS award for ‘Outstanding Achievement for Peer Work in Mental Health and Addiction services in New Zealand’.
This award is funded by the Ministry of Health through Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui.
It acknowledges the significance of the peer and consumer work force in New Zealand and recognises services and individuals who are changing the way services are delivered
The recipient of this award has been delivering mental health services since 1998 and has led one of the largest and longest running consumer-run organisations in New Zealand.
He has achieved a master’s degree in philosophy and set a pathway of learning to better understand the personal experience of mental illness and recovery.
This formed the idea of a model of support for people with experience of mental illness by people with experience of mental illness known as peer support.
Having successfully published a paper in the International Journal of Leadership in Public Service, this innovative individual went on to do some amazing work including the establishment of New Zealand’s first all-consumer New Zealand Qualifications Authority registered Private Training Establishment, delivering the first (and only) NZQA approved Certificate in Peer Support Mental Health.
In recognition of an extraordinary person who is changing the delivery of mental health and addiction services, I would now like to ask Mr Jim Burdett to come forward to accept this award for ‘Outstanding Achievement for Peer Work in Mental Health and Addiction services in New Zealand’ on behalf of the ThMHS Conference, the Ministry of Health and your fellow New Zealanders.
Tēnā koutou katoa.