Story: Health advocacy and self-help

Page 4. Mental-health and addiction organisations

All images & media in this story

Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand

The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand was founded in 1977 to support positive early life experiences as a way of establishing good mental health. Later the organisation widened its scope and promoted the mental health of all New Zealanders. It was an advocate for rights and welfare, and from 1977 to 1986 provided grants to other groups working in this field. In the 21st century the foundation provides a resource and information service and organises public campaigns designed to end discrimination.

Aotearoa Network of Psychiatric Survivors

Auckland Psychiatric Survivors (APS) was founded in the mid-1980s. It was a self-help group for people who had used mental-health services, and an advocate for mental-health consumers in general. In 1990 APS member Mary O’Hagan and Pauline Hinds of Dunedin established the Aotearoa Network of Psychiatric Survivors (ANOPS), which provided a national voice on issues concerning mental health. ANOPS was involved in advocacy work on behalf of mental health patients at a time when psychiatric hospitals were being shut down and patients moved into the care of the general community. It was dissolved in 1998 after the government stopped funding its work.

Mental Health Commission

The Mental Health Commission is a Crown agency, usually led by three commissioners, which provides the government with independent advice on mental-health and addiction services in New Zealand. It was established in 1998 on the recommendation of Judge Ken Mason, who headed an official inquiry into New Zealand’s mental health services. Aotearoa Network of Psychiatric Survivors founder Mary O’Hagan was a mental-health commissioner from 2000 to 2007. The Commission produced its Blueprint for mental health services in New Zealand in 1998 to help improve health care services. In 2012 it published Blueprint II which outlined strategies for better service provision between 2012 and 2022. The Commission was disestablished later that year. In January 2018 the government announced a ministerial inquiry into mental health and addiction chaired by the former Health and Disability Commissioner, Professor Ron Paterson. The government has indicated that the Mental Health Commission will be re-established after this inquiry.

National and regional self-help groups

In the 2010s regional mental-health organisations were found throughout New Zealand. Examples included Health Action Trust (HAT), a Nelson-based organisation which offers peer advocacy and a peer-run crisis house, and Richmond Community Trust in Christchurch which provided community-based support services for people diagnosed with severe mental illness. Richmond Community Trust merged with Recovery Solutions to form Emerge Aotearoa, a nation-wide organisation which offers in-community care for those with complex mental health needs. Mind and Body, which provided peer support services in Auckland and Christchurch, merged with Emerge in 2015. Te Awa o Te Ora is a Christchurch-based kaupapa-Māori mental health service which is affiliated to Te Rūnanga o Ngā Taura Here ki Te Waipounamu and He Oranga Pounamu.

Addiction organisations

Alcoholics Anonymous New Zealand was founded in 1946, based on an American model. It is the best-known addiction support and self-help group. Members follow a recovery programme and meet regularly to share stories about their addiction. In the 2010s there were over 400 separate groups meeting weekly throughout New Zealand. Narcotics Anonymous facilitated meetings for people in recovery from drug addictions.

How to cite this page:

Rosemary Du Plessis and Anne Scott, 'Health advocacy and self-help - Mental-health and addiction organisations', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 20 April 2024)

Story by Rosemary Du Plessis and Anne Scott, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 17 Jul 2018