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New Zealand to host 2022 IIMHL Leadership Exchange

New Zealand is to be the host country for the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) Leadership Exchange, which is to be held in February and March 2022 in Christchurch.

About IIMHL (

The focus of IIMHL is on leadership development through the creation of networks and partnerships for rapid knowledge transfer about innovations and problem solving across countries and agencies.

IIMHL promotes mental health and well-being for everyone by:

  • Developing leaders who influence the conditions for positive mental health in all sectors across the life span
  • Developing leaders who deliver the best possible outcomes for people who use mental health and addictions services and their families.

The 9 IIMHL member countries are New Zealand, Australia, USA, Canada, England, Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands.

About the Leadership Exchange

A major mechanism through which IIMHL advances leadership development is the international Leadership Exchange, held every two years, which rotates across the continents where sponsoring countries are located – Australasia, North America and Europe.

Leadership Exchanges are week-long events hosted by sponsoring member countries, with seats allocated by country. They have two components:

  1. Two-day site visits or “Matches” (on Monday and Tuesday) involving hosts and leaders from sponsoring countries with shared interests, who participate in a jointly or co-developed agenda to support knowledge exchange. Matches have been held on topics such as suicide prevention, data and surveillance, criminal justice involvement and more.
  2. Following a travel day on the Wednesday, the two-day Network Meeting brings all participants together for a program that includes keynote presentations on emerging innovations and opportunities for further knowledge exchange, beginning in the evening of the Wednesday with a pōwhiri (Māori formal welcome) and an Opening Reception.

For 2022, New Zealand and Australia are hosting the Matches from 29 February to 1 March. Te Pou and the NZ Ministry of Health are hosting the Network Meeting in Christchurch beginning the evening 2nd through to 4 March.

Topics of the two day site visit include indigenous collaboratives, peer leadership, peer lead acute alternatives, emerging leaders, primary mental health integration, Pacific, comprehensive suicide prevention, determining capacity and interventions for mandatory assessment for substance mis-use, perinatal infant and maternal mental health and substance use, drug courts, an addiction international collaborative, child & youth, families, workforce, data, e mental health, older persons, help lines.

Goals of the Leadership Exchange

The Leadership Exchange is designed to create professional relationships and networks and to give leaders the opportunity to gain new knowledge about emerging practices overseas, as well as to share their own innovations, all of which help leaders to bring about change in their home areas.

Once key leaders are linked together, they have the opportunity to begin collaborating and building international partnerships. Relationship building leads to creating safe environments for sharing lessons learned about what works and also what doesn’t work.

The benefits of this collaboration are intended to cascade to colleagues and clients/service delivery. Benefits can include: rapid exchange of innovations and creative developments; the creation of ongoing partnerships; sharing of experiences and expertise at many levels (clinical, policy, operational, managerial) such as staff exchanges and sabbaticals, and; joint program and service developments, including research projects.

Overarching theme: Kaingākautia te Whakawhāiti Tāngata, te Ngākau Manawaroa, te Puāwaitanga o te Tangata | Valuing Inclusion, Resilience and Growth

The overarching 2022 theme reflects the response to events experienced in Christchurch, New Zealand. Christchurch as a community and an infrastructure is in re-growth mode from the challenge of two significant earthquakes (September 2010 and February 2011). The two Christchurch mosque attacks (March 2019) raised the nationwide challenge of valuing diversity and expressing kindness to all people. New Zealand led this as an international challenge based on the way we responded with aroha (love) within our nation. Inclusion encompasses all people, resilience provides the hope to recover and restore, and growth actively brings newness and life. The Christchurch Network Meeting venue was deliberately selected to contribute to the local economy, to demonstrate to our international visitors that New Zealand is resilient, and to affirm that we can grow new things without forgetting the old.

The interpretation of the theme in te reo Māori enhances the mana of the sentiments expressed. It means literally: Cherish the inclusion of all people, the resilient heart and blossoming of the whole person.

There is a concurrent initiative for leaders of disability – the International Initiative for Disability Leadership (IIDL). There are some matches and sessions at the 2-day Christchurch meeting in common with IIMHL.

IIMHL is pre-planned with Match Hosts within the host country and international visitors register to attend. This is not like a conference or seminar that people register to attend. However some match hosts within New Zealand may be receptive to some New Zealand leaders attending the match visit, subject to availability of space at their venues.

Te Pou is co-ordinating IIMHL 2022 in partnership with IIMHL and the Ministry of Health. Rae Lamb and Will Ward are the key leaders within Te Pou, contributing to the planning of the events. Project support is provided by Jenny Wolf.

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