A group of volunteers in Wanaka is calling for a volunteer qualitative researcher to help draw up a submission for the Government’s Mental Health Inquiry.
In a press release earlier this year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the terms of the inquiry were “deliberately broad” but would enable people in the community to make submissions.
“Nothing is off the table. We all know we have a problem with mental health in this country and our suicide rate is shameful,” she said.
“It is well past time for us to do something about it.
“We want to hear from service users, the wider community and the mental health sector about their experience and expectations. Improving our mental health is something we can all play a part in.”
In response, Terry Drayton, Sousa Jefferson and Howard Christian came together to co-ordinate a submission.
For that, the group needs a qualitative researcher to interview a range of people from different sectors, such as teachers, counsellors, law enforcement officers, and youth workers.
Dr Christian said the way mental health was looked at needed to undergo a paradigm shift. A submission that heard from different people could be a way to change that.
“I think mental health is an issue everywhere we go.
“It’s not just mental health – it’s health.”
As the group was made up of volunteers, the research position would be unpaid. The short timeframe on the project – submissions are due to open in the coming weeks – meant the researcher would realistically only be able to interview about 15
But there was nothing to stop members of the community making their own submissions, he said.
Mr Drayton said the inquiry offered a rare chance for all New Zealanders to have a say.
“This is a window of opportunity for New Zealanders to express themselves and go beyond what has been put in place so far.
“Jacinda Ardern said quite clearly that nothing is off the table – that’s a very large statement for a PM to make.
“We’re going to dive through that window.
“What we’re looking for is a healthy community. That’s as long as a piece of string.”
Mr Drayton said the group “was not looking to reinvent the wheel”, but called for a new approach that looked beyond the current medical practices dealing with mental health issues.
“There’s a whole world outside of that that has been going on for a long time and hasn’t been endorsed by the health system.
“You only need one person with a good idea to change the world – the world just has to accept that idea.”