by Greta Yeoman
Concerns over youth resilience, workers’ rights and the disconnect between services were some of the many issues raised at a meeting on mental health and addiction last Thursday.
Five of the seven members of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction were present at the Timaru meeting last week, which was attended by more than 200 South Canterbury residents.
South Canterbury Anglican Care’s social justice advocate, Ruth Swale, said the meeting went well and a variety of people with connections to mental health and addiction services were able to share their views.
She said one woman had raised the issue of a family member having to retell her story every time she was referred to a new mental health practitioner.
“Each time they were starting from square one.”
Another attendee said a family member who had tried to overdose on medication had gone to a new doctor who had not known this and had prescribed more than 100 of the same pills.
South Canterbury Anglican Advocacy Group member and counsellor Alexia Bensemann will host a mental health workshop, “Learning from Our Fear”, on June 15, 2pm-4pm.
Contact Ruth Swale on firstname.lastname@example.org or 021 134-0307 to confirm attendance and know the venue location.
Ms Swale said most of the stories shared were second-hand; there was a noted lack of clients at the meeting.
The event was one of the final meetings held around the country before submissions to the inquiry closed on Tuesday.
YMCA Mid and South Canterbury communications manager Michele Keggenhoff attended the meeting, and wrote a submission.
She said the YMCA was seeking more support for prevention programmes such as the organisation’s Resiliency Toolkit, which had been developed with help from its youth clients.
“There is really an emphasis on treatment ..,” she said of the inquiry. “We’d like to see more resources put into prevention measures [as well].”
Public Service Association president Janet Quigley, of Timaru, said while she had not made it to the meeting, she had put in a submission on behalf of the union, which represented more than 6000 members working in the mental health and addiction system.
The workers across the country were seeing the unmet needs of their clients and having to make daily decisions on who they could help or not.
“That’s just not fair.”
While some people had been upset no major funding increases had been allocated in this year’s Budget, with the Government promising the outcome of the inquiry would influence Budget 2019, they needed to remember “Rome was not built in a day”, Ms Quigley said.
“This is what we called for,” she said of the inquiry.
She just hoped the workers in the system would be listened to on their ideas for change.
“[This could be] a whole new way of doing integrated [mental health] services.”