Availability of mental health support lifted


People can now get mental health support from one place, as part of a plan to improve health services across the Hurunui and Kaikoura districts.

Specialist mental health staff are being added to general practice teams in both districts to boost access to rural mental health support.

Locals will be put in contact with the team member or service that best meets their wellbeing and mental health needs, when they visit their local general practice.

The changes have been made so people can get the support they need close to their homes, says Paul Wynands, a consultant clinical psychologist at Waitaha Primary Health.

''In the past, people might have travelled to Christchurch to access specialist mental health services.

''As well as providing support to the person and their family/whanau, the specialists consider the person's whole situation and can link them to other supports they might need.''

The service follows a recommendation for more mental health support in local communities in the model-of-care plan, developed by the Hurunui Health Services Development Group and the community.

Another initiative delivering dedicated mental health and wellbeing services within Hurunui's rural communities is the Mana Ake - Stronger for Tomorrow initiative.

Designed to enhance positive mental health and wellbeing for children aged 5 to 12, Mana Ake is available through primary and intermediate schools.

Mana Ake workers have a wide range of skills. Its ranks include social workers, counsellors, teachers, youth workers and psychologists.

They work with children one-on-one, with their families or with groups of children.

They can provide support at school, in the community or at children's homes. They also provide advice, guidance

and support to teachers and family/whanau.

Its staff help children learn skills such as coping with change or challenges, managing their emotions, building positive relationships or overcoming grief and loss.

Katie Thomas, who works in the programme in the Hurunui, says it is important for children and their families to get support as close to home as possible.

''Some of the families I've worked with were driving up to four hours every week for specialist support, which puts extra stress and expense on to our families at an already stressful time.

''It's a real privilege to provide flexible and responsive support - for schools this can be class-wide, group, or individual interventions.

''We also work with families and provide a holistic view, which includes considering the other supports they may need and connecting them to those.''

Mana Ake has helped more than 170 children since it was launched in Hurunui schools over four months from October 2018, and in Kaikoura schools in April this year.

If a child is home-schooled or attends Correspondence School, parents can contact the Mana Ake team by email at manaakefeedback@cdhb.health.nz. More information is available online at ccn.health.nz.

-The Hurunui Health Services Development Group was formed in 2015 and aims to support rural communities to lead the redesign of health and social services across the Hurunui, in particular how services are delivered and accessed.

Need help?
Healthline 0800 611 116
Lifeline Aotearoa 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Samaritans 0800 726 666
Alcohol Drug Helpline 0800 787 797
General mental health inquiries: 0800 44 33 66
The Depression Helpline 0800 111 757






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