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Review of the public mental health system 'highlights addiction issues'

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Addiction Practitioners' Association of Aotearoa New Zealand (dapaanz) says a review of the public mental health system, which asks clinicians to be whistleblowers about systemic problems, also highlights issues faced by people with addiction who are trying to get help.

The three-month review, which started on 10 October (Mental Health Awareness Week), asks people working in mental health and service users trying to access services to share their stories online. The aim is to personalise problems within the system and encourage the Government to take more notice. So far more than 450 submissions have been received and the people behind the project say they show the system is routinely failing people in desperate need of treatment.

"People with addictions often have concurrent issues with mental health and vice versa," says dapaanz Executive Director Sue Paton.

"What concerns us most is that people with addictions often have the most difficult time of all in accessing help. It's important they get access to treatment as soon as they are ready, rather than face months on a waiting list where the danger of relapse is high."

Ms Paton says the People’s Review is really important because it provides valuable insights into the problems those attempting to access services face, and that this is information the Government could and should act on.

"The mental health and addiction systems are related and both need to be looked at urgently. Sixteen percent of New Zealanders will be diagnosed with a mental disorder at some stage in their lives, and 20 percent will have a major depressive episode associated with addictive behaviour.

"These are not insignificant numbers but, unfortunately, addiction treatment can be the poor cousin in an already overloaded system."

Dapaanz is the member association representing the professional interests of people working in the addiction treatment sector and has more than 1600 members.

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