Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the government will be undertaking a ministerial inquiry aimed at improving New Zealand's mental health and addiction services.
Addresing media from Wellington today Ms Ardern said the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction will be chaired by former Health and Disability Commissioner, Professor Ron Paterson, and will report back to the government by the end of October, 2018.
"Mental health and addiction are issues for all New Zealanders," says Ms Ardern.
"Most of us will know a friend or whanau member that has faced a mental health challenge in their lives. Plenty have reached out and received the support required, but too many still have unhappy stories to tell."
In a statement released today Ms Ardern admitted that services are stretched to the limit when it comes to mental health services.
"We know that services are stretched. Demand has grown rapidly in recent years. In 2016/17 more than 170,000 people used mental health and addiction services – that's up by 71 per cent on a decade earlier.
"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."
The Prime Minister says the country needs fresh thinking when it comes to mental health and how we deal with the issue.
"Nothing is off the table. We all know we have a problem with mental health in this country and our suicide rate is shameful. It is well past time for us to do something about it.
"We should not pretend that this will be easy, but the Government is committed to taking action to improve the lives of people living with mental health issues," says Prime Minister Ardern.