New Zealand Ministry of Health

The Shared Reading groups offered by The Reading Revolution further the visions, aspirations and trends expressed by the Ministry of Health in their mission to help New Zealanders with mental health issues. Shared reading is a cheap and effective way to help participants to access their own inner strengths. Shared Reading builds confidence and supports and promotes inclusion within communities by providing a safe space for shared learning in which every contribution is valued and cherished. This helps people deal with physical or emotional pain, isolation and many other issues. Shared Reading groups have proven highly successful in both public and private settings including residential mental health facilities, pain clinics, rest homes, shelters and libraries. (See the research provided by Liverpool University.)

Participants come to Shared Reading groups for a wide variety of reasons and with different needs. In one public group you may have attendees who variously are experiencing brain injury, early stages of MS, depression, isolation resulting from unemployment, redundancy or bereavement or dementia. This diversity is not uncommon in a Shared Reading environment. Providing a free public service that does not define participants also increases access. Even people who take strong medications that prevent them from physically reading or people with visual impairment may still access literature via Shared Reading because all materials discussed are read aloud by the practitioner within the group setting. The gentle therapeutic activity of listening to great literature read aloud and participating in discussion over tea and a biscuit promotes succour through shared experience. Shared Reading promotes the resilience and patience that help the body and mind to heal.

Ministry of Health – Rising to the Challenge The Mental Health and Addiction Service Plan 2012-2017.


“All New Zealanders will have the tools to weather adversity, actively support each other’s wellbeing, and attain their potential within their family and whānau and communities. Whatever our age, gender or culture, when we need support to improve our mental health and wellbeing or address addiction, we will be able to rapidly access the interventions we need from a range of effective, well-integrated services. We will have confidence that our publicly funded health and social services are working together to make best use of public funds and to support the best possible outcomes for those who are most vulnerable.”

The Ministry states that with constrained budgets, they have looked to NGOs for partnerships. The trend has been for:

“the development of a strong non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector. By 2010/11, the total number of people accessing NGO service was 31,792 and 24 percent of mental health and addiction funding was being spent on these services. Today NGOs provide a wide range of support and clinical services and play a significant and integral role in addressing people’s mental health and addiction issues.”

Most importantly, health services will need to work alongside individuals, families, whānau and communities, so that:

  • young people have a healthy beginning and can subsequently flourish
  • all people can learn and draw strength from the challenges they face
  • people with mental health or addiction issues can rapidly recover when they are unwell
  • social isolation or exclusion as a result of adverse experiences and illness become a thing of the past.

The Ministry states that along with value for money, they wish to see a cementing and building on gains in resilience and recovery, improved mental health and wellbeing, physical health and social inclusion. They also wish to support people with mental health issues to positively contribute at home and within their community (see the table below).


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