The recent visit made by staff from the National Institute for Mental Health in England (NIMHE) was to New Zealand, rather than Australia and the Far East. The purpose of the visit was to attend the International Institute of Mental Health Leaders conference.
The visit to NZ is part of an international initiative to promote effective leadership of mental health services sponsored by the Department in England and the equivalent bodies in the United States of America, NZ and Australia.
The NIMHE paid for 11 people to visit NZ, which included a national service user (and his carer) and a national carer representative. All air travel arrangements were made following guidance issued by the Department. The total cost NIMHE was £24,000.
Examples of learning by involvement in the International Initiative Mental Health Leadership exchanges and conference encompassed seeing how NZ is taking a leading role internationally in tackling issues of direct relevance to services in the United Kingdom, including:
Engaging the voluntary and independent sector in playing a major role in providing mental health services—30 per cent. of services in NZ are delivered by this sector compared to less than 10 per cent. in England.
Developing innovative models of mental health service delivery for a complex multicultural society (35 per cent. of the population), which reflects the key role of families and local communities in supporting recovery.
Managing major public campaigns challenging stigma and discrimination to ensure that people with mental health problems can play their full role in the workforce and in the wider community.
Addressing the challenges of delivering services in rural communities with limited access to professional staff.
Among the issues that NZ staff were anxious to learn about were the UK experience of:
Creating a workforce with appropriate capabilities to meet the needs of rapidly changing services.
Challenging the social exclusion of people with mental health problems in employment, housing, education and social activities.
Establishing a national mental health research network to support the development of evidence based practice in health and social care.
Demonstrating how NIMHE has supported service improvement in front line service delivery, including improved access, booking and choice for service users and their families.