The He Ara Oranga: Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction doesn’t shy away from tackling the tough issues, and makes specific mention of both the importance of early childhood and the need for evidence-based, quality-assured programmes.
Auckland-based psychologist and parenting expert, Jackie Riach, manager of Triple P New Zealand, welcomed the recognition of the importance of early childhood and parenting support services to improve children’s and adult’s mental health.
However, she also called for not only the government but also the wider community, and parents themselves, to put a much greater emphasis on the role of parenting in the wellbeing of children and parents, as well as whole families and communities.
"The evidence is very clear that parenting is one of the most influential factors governing a host of physical, financial and emotional outcomes for individuals across their lifetimes, both positively and negatively,’’ Ms Riach said.
She added that many parents don’t realise that the stress they experience due to everyday family issues is very common, and could be greatly alleviated with only minor changes.
"Providing evidence-based parenting support services across the country for all families would go a long way to addressing the report’s identified need to provide prevention and early intervention services to improve the mental health of New Zealand citizens,” Ms Riach said.
She said extremely cost-effective ways to do this are readily available: not only through training those who already work with families in the education, health and community sectors, but also by offering high-quality evidence-based support directly to parents through online programmes.
Ms Riach said every government department in New Zealand needed to take the role of parenting seriously and play a role in extending universal evidence-based parenting support to all families.