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Passionate and eager to help

HIGH suicide statistics and mental health and addiction issues on the East Coast are part of a Gisborne tertiary student's future career decision.

Now she has time in her life to be able to do something for herself, EIT Tairawhiti student Tauaroha Wikotu has plans.

She returned to Gisborne a couple of years ago after spending 12 years in Australia.

Life is now about following her passion.

Tauaroha has been training in her role at Hauora Tairawhiti and will continue training to help with the suicide and mental health problem on the East Coast.

Last year, she completed the New Zealand Certificate in Health and Wellbeing — levels 3 and 4 — an education programme for people who currently or wish to provide support in the health sector.

“Coming back has made me look deeper into my future,” she said.

“I had gained qualifications in Australia where I had worked in aged care, but I needed to get qualifications in New Zealand.”

There was a personal reason her interest in mental health had been sparked while she was studying.

“A close relative needed some help with their mental health and I went through the process of trying to find some support.

“Everyone was so helpful and caring and I saw the passion behind their care.”

The Level 3 course students were able to hear about different career paths directly from people working in various roles in the health sector.

Some of these roles were from organisations as well as from grass roots initiatives.

The speaker about mental health, EIT lecturer Claudia Maaka, inspired her to look down that path.

Realising how much help was needed in mental health in Gisborne and the East Coast, as well as the shortage of workers, helped her further decide.

She gained work with Hauora Tairawhiti as a healthcare assistant and worked across all wards, with the aim to focus more on mental health and addictions this year.

“I worked in the casual pool to work around my course, but once I got my feet in there, I realised that was where I wanted to be.”

Having successfully completed the Level 3 and four certificates last year — Support Work and Advanced Support — Tauaroha is undertaking the NZ Certificate in Health and Wellbeing — Mental Health and Addictions programme this year with EIT Tairawhiti.

Full of passion and love, Tauaroha knows the challenges of working in this area of health but believes she has a lot to offer the sector.

“To do this you have to actually care and have plenty of love to give.

“I am really looking forward to this year's learning and heading back home up the coast within the next couple of years to help in any way I can.”

Tauaroha says she is grateful for what she was able to learn during the course last year, and says it was helpful to guide her on a career path that she is passionate about.

Health and Wellbeing lecturer Cherie Te Rore recognises the heart and skills that every student brings to the programme, as “experiences in their lives motivate them to want to give that support to others”.

The course is very popular and fills up quickly,” she says. Each programme runs for one semester — 17 weeks.

The Level 3 Support Work programme covers the fundamentals of support work as well as personal inner health and wellbeing.

Embedding literacy and numeracy skills development into the Level 3 programme is a priority for tertiary providers, and students have the opportunity to improve speaking, reading, writing, listening and critical thinking proficiencies.

Cherie finds creative ways to explore the different topics in the programme including project-based learning, arts-based exploration and digital media applications.

To enrol in the Level 4 Advanced Support programme, students need to have completed Level 3, be employed in the health sector and have an endorsement from their employer. Both programmes are offered each semester.

Mental health help: A passionate Tauaroha Wikotu believes her training at EIT Tairawhiti will help her make a worthwhile contribution to the East Coast community. For more information about the Health and Wellbeing programmes, including Support Work, Advanced Support and Mental Health and Addictions, head to the EIT Tairawhiti main office in Palmerston Road or the EIT website. Picture supplied