Jacinda Ardern: 'We are answering a call' with mental health inquiry

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government's decision to open a mental health inquiry is "answering a call" from the community.

A key election promise, the inquiry into mental health and addiction is due to be wrapped up by the end of October. It will be chaired by Auckland University Law Professor Ron Paterson.

The inquiry has been asked to report back on mental health and addiction needs and recommend specific changes that would improve the mental health system. 

"We are ultimately answering a call, and that call came from the community," Ms Ardern said. 

"It came from family members who experienced loss. It came from people who had tried to access mental health services, and it came from people in the workforce. We are answering that call. 

"We're acknowledging all of the concerns that have been raised, and we're hoping to find the answers they are looking for. "

Health Minister David Clark said members of the inquiry "have licence to be critical of Government if required… It's right that it is that way."

The budget for the inquiry is $6.5 million. The Chair will be paid $1400 a day, and Members will receive $975 a day.

While New Zealand First and the Greens are on board, National doesn't support the inquiry.

It's not going to change anything, National Party leader Bill English said earlier this afternoon.

"This inquiry will take most of this year" and by the time recommendations are back and reflected in the Budget, "nothing will happen until 2020."

"An inquiry isn't going to reduce suicides", he said.

The Government should instead be implementing the plan put in place by the previous Government, he said.

Dr Clark said the Government won't be conducting a Royal Commission as that would take too long. 

Individual incidents or cases are outside the scope of the inquiry.

Inquiry members

  • Chairperson: Professor Ron Paterson
  • Member: Dr Barbara Disley
  • Member: Sir Mason Durie
  • Member: Dean Rangihuna
  • Member: Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath
  • Member: Josiah Tualamali'i 


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