People's mental health report: a crowdfunded, crowdsourced, story-based report

19 Apr 2017

The People’s Mental Health Review is a grassroots initiative, crowdfunded by members of the ActionStation community and supported largely by the efforts of volunteers. The Review consisted of an open call to people who had experience with New Zealand’s mental health system to share their stories. We invited people to submit their stories online, with the option to be anonymous, and welcomed stories in various formats. The Review received more than 500 stories. Of those stories 276 came from people with experience of using or trying to access mental health services, 78 stories from people who work in mental health services, and 154 from people whose family members either used or worked in mental health services.

464 of the stories (93%) focused mostly on problems and challenges people experienced either using or working in mental health services. 36 stories (7%) were about positive experiences that people had while using or working in mental health services, this includes stories that were mixed but contained explicitly positive elements

Key themes in the report were: Access and wait times; Need for more treatment options; People who work in mental health under strain; Entrenched problems including compulsion; Social and economic stress;Lack of oversight.


  • An urgent funding increase for mental health services for acute and community based mental health services nationally. This requires a focus on increasing community based service access and treatment choices for people using mental health services to provide interventions early. It is also essential to support the people who work in mental health services, by easing workload pressures and enabling them to offer the services and support people want and need.
  • Fully independent oversight of the mental health system in line with minimum obligations set out in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This could be in the form of restoring the Mental Health Commission, the creation of an independent Disability Commission, or the inclusion of dedicated Mental Health Commissioners under the current Human Rights Commission. These would include clearly designated roles for those with lived experience.
  • An urgent independent inquiry into the structure and provision of mental health services in New Zealand. The terms of this inquiry should be informed by New Zealand’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and the need to provide for healthy families and healthy communities, and should allow for the increasing numbers of people seeking support from mental health services. We also recommend that a Royal Commission of Inquiry be carried out into the long-term and entrenched problems highlighted by this review.
  • A national education programme to support all New Zealanders to understand what mental health is, and what mental health services provide, that operates in the education system and wider society. This will ensure that the work of change is understood by all New Zealanders so people with lived experience are included by our society rather than having to endure prejudice and discrimination


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