A 30,000-strong petition was presented to Parliament today to mark World Mental Health Day, with a call for the new government to commit to a mental health inquiry.
Hana Reedy and Api Nasedra presented a photo of their 15-year-old daughter Ariana, who they lost to suicide two months ago, framed by the names of the thousands of New Zealanders calling for an inquiry into mental health. An earlier video of Mrs Reedy’s story inspired an outpouring of support online for the petition and inquiry.
PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk says a poll has shown 77% of New Zealanders support an independent inquiry into mental health and support services and – prior to the election – all parties except National and Act had committed to holding an inquiry.
“Families like Hana’s are being forced to face their darkest hours alone,” says Polaczuk. “Hana’s call for a mental health inquiry is supported by tens of thousands of people not because her story is unique, but because it reflects a shared experience of a system that is failing the people who need it most.”
Polaczuk says the unions’ members were stretched with many crisis teams on the brink of collapse.
Hawke’s Bay Today reported that Reedy didn’t want other families to go through what she had after the health system failed her.
“She [Ariana] attempted suicide twice before and I had tried everything to get her help. I begged as hard as I could but she was turned away. Our mental health system is failing our young people.”
After the first attempt, Mrs Reedy took Ariana to get help from the hospital but after two nights she was back at home. The same thing happened soon after and, after begging for help, she was told Ariana would have a spot in a mental health ward in Wellington but when they packed to leave, they were then told her bed had been taken.
Instead, she went into the general children’s ward and because “she wasn’t considered serious even though she tried to take her own life” was released again.
“All I was given was a pamphlet and some phone numbers.” One month after Ariana was released, she took her life.
“I truly believe if she could have got the help she needed, she would still be here today. I cannot begin to tell you the pain I am going through.
“I tried so hard. I still remember how much I begged. I still don’t understand how we were let down.
“The mental health system is in crisis and parents like me are being forced to pick up the pieces but we aren’t trained to that.”
YesWeCare.nz, which ran The Shoe Project suicide prevention campaign, supported the family. Coalition members include the Public Service Association (PSA) which represents many mental health workers.
Mrs Reedy’s petition will remain open and can be signed at http://change.org/mydaughter.
WHERE TO GET HELP
If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
Or if you need to talk to someone else, phone:
LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
OUTLINE: 0800 688 5463 (confidential service for the LGBTQI+ community, their friends and families)
RURAL SUPPORT TRUST: 0800 787 254.