Last week saw the release of the Monitoring and Advocacy Report of the Mental Health Commissioner 2020.

The report highlights the positive start the Government is making in its response to He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction.

But it also raises concerns particularly in relation to support and services for Māori and for people who experience ongoing and often serious mental health and addiction issues.

The report also highlights the significant employment inequities experienced by people with mental health and addiction issues, saying this is an equity area of ongoing concern which needs addressing, along with physical health and housing.

More is needed to help people to stay in work or find a job.

Access to health and wellbeing interventions

The Mental Health Commissioner calls for better access to a broader range of health and wellbeing interventions across all mental health and addiction services, both secondary and primary. These interventions should include employment support.

The report highlights the actions in the COVID-19 psychosocial and mental wellbeing recovery plan Kia Kaha, Kia Māia, Kia Ora Aotearoa including the need to “consider how mental health and addiction services and employment support can be linked”.

As New Zealand enters into a period of recession and rising levels of joblessness following the COVID-19 pandemic emergency response, strengthening the delivery and integration of employment and mental health and addiction support will become increasingly important.

Need for an evidence-based integrated mental health, addiction and employment strategy

The report also reinforces the recommendations from the OECD report Mental Health and Work: New Zealand, particularly the need for an evidence-based integrated mental health and employment strategy and to:

  • establish employment as a key target for mental health and addiction care
  • focus on supporting children and young people’s mental wellbeing
  • improve workplace mental health
  • prioritise support for mental health and addiction in the employment and welfare system.

The report states that we must ensure we support people who face the greatest inequities in access to employment, good physical health and safe and affordable housing. Continued effort is needed to establish and deliver, at scale, what works.

 

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