Mental health inquiry head wants to honour the submissions

Source: 1News

The chair of the government’s mental health inquiry wants to honour the thousands of people who have told them their stories.

The inquiry wraps up its public meetings this week after visiting towns all over the country and reading and listening to thousands of submissions.

“We're thinking not about what government is going to like but how we can honour the voices of the people we've heard and how we can come up with something that's going to make a difference for the future,” the chair Ron Paterson said.

The inquiry heard from over 2000 people including those like Malcolm Hinder.

“If you've got a broken leg they wouldn't expect you to run up the sky tower but if you have a mental illness they expect you to wade through all the agencies,” Mr Hinder said.

“People are saying they are struggling to get help, they don't want to go hospital necessarily but we want services that are there when we need them.”

The youngest member of the six-person panel says the stories have been heartbreaking.

“The tragedy of what people have experienced, particularly bereaved families who have lost people to suicide or families who just haven't been able to restore their relationship with family before they've passed on,” 23-year-old Josiah Tualamali'I said.

The inquiry was an election promise by the coalition government.

National refused to hold an inquiry but they say the government should get on with investing in services.

Health Minister David Clark didn't want to comment while the inquiry is ongoing but he told 1 NEWS he hopes the inquiry will shape the government's approach for years to come and act on any recommendations at next year's budget.

For those who've had their say, it's not just about more money.

“Education, training, they say it takes a community to raise a child and I believe it takes a community to walk with someone as they go through an illness,” Mr Hinder said.

No matter what the recommendations are, it seems inevitable a mental health commission will be established.

“We're asked explicitly to consider the shape or form of a new commission and we're thinking about that very carefully,” Mr Paterson said.

The report and recommendations will be handed to the health minister in October.

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