“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”. Henry Ford

Supporting sector leadership with the collection, use and understanding of mental health and addictions information and outcomes is a key component of the work led by the service and information team at Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui. As part of coming together, keeping together and working together, Te Pou hosted a national mental health information and outcomes forum on Friday 4 November in Wellington - this year’s focus was about “making it matter”. A diverse line up of presentations were featured which focused on freshening perspective, enhancing enthusiasm for outcomes and information collection, and very importantly, the value of application of information to service user recovery.

The opening address by Professor Richie Poulton set the scene for the day with some clear messages about data telling stories about people, the need to use that information wisely, and that services need to critically consider and apply data to support them to enhance service provision to people.

Luke Rowe’s presentation “Māori mental health: measuring what really matters” included a compelling video which can be viewed on the Tane Ora Alliance website. Luke’s presentation demonstrated practice change in progress, to better meet the needs of Māori in services.

“The people behind the percentages: a consumer perspective on what matters” was delivered by Kelly Pope. Kelly discussed the importance of data to people with lived experience and the misconception that consumers may not or do not value outcome measurement. Kelly reflected on her own experience of over ten years in youth and adult mental health services – and in never hearing about, let alone experiencing the sharing of outcome measurement collection – she expects it is unlikely that she is the only one in this situation.

Lillian Grace, CEO of Figure NZ pitched her presentation, “See New Zealand clearly: How we can all use numbers to better understand our context”, at accessibility of information with a perspective outside of mental health and addiction services. Lillian explained despite the ability for data to help us to see clearly, most of the data collected in New Zealand is largely not well used. Figure NZ aims to help people use numbers in their thinking.

A combination of concurrent sessions left delegates to explore different opportunities – from highlighting the need for recovery planning, to reflecting outcome measurement from a consumer perspective, to the use and value of social outcome indicators in the mental health and addiction sector, and the consideration of seclusion and understanding seclusion research.

The final speaker of the day was Dr Roderick McKay. Joining us from New South Wales, Dr McKay offered a psychiatrist and broader system perspective. He discussed implications of information collection and described how a person's personal journey has been influenced by the use of information, leading to a picture of significant variations in care in practice.

This year’s forum attracted a more diverse audience than previous years, along with some regular faces. Those attending had several opportunities to network throughout the day and speak with some of our presenters.

While we are still working through the evaluations from the day, there is a sense that the content was a success. Some of the feedback includes:

“Every presentation was surprisingly good and useful. A very solid line up that got diverse perspectives across”

“Fabulous day – thoughtful and challenging”

“All the speakers were of very high quality”

“Great forum – have thoroughly enjoyed being involved”

“Fantastic line-up”

There is no doubt that improving the use of information in making evidence based decisions has a place in service provision in our country. Encouraging critical thinking about what needs to change in the future for services – by using information, analysing trends, exploring issues and questioning the data – can provide a platform for growth and demonstrates the value of the stories data can tell about people who use our services now and into the future.

Exploring information with the people the data relates to was a challenge issued effectively by Kelly and very aptly summed up by Dr McKay in response to a question from the floor – “any measure can be used – but it’s about the therapeutic conversation that occurs alongside it”.

Presentations recorded on the day and related speaker material will be available to view online soon. In an effort to assist DHB services to access their collected data, Te Pou produces PRIMHD reports on mental health and addictions outcomes data every quarter to each DHB. This information can be used to shape and support service changes and delivery. View and download national outcome reports

We would like to acknowledge and thank those who attended this forum and contributed to making the event a success. You all have the ability to apply information in action and to use numbers in your thinking - how can you make it matter?