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New services for mental distress in Tairāwhiti in 2022

Tairāwhiti is set to get two new mental health services next year.

The services, one for youth and the other offering early intervention for those with mental health and addiction issues, will be at primary healthcare level.

“It's about recognising and responding to distress early”, said Ministry of Health access and choice programme lead Jo Chiplin.

“It's about the first point of contact services where people need some formalised mental health and addiction support but don't meet criteria for specialist services.”

The Integrated Primary Mental Health and Addiction (IPMHA) service will be accessed out of general practices and two new roles will be introduced — mental health practitioner or health improvement practitioner (clinical) and a health coach, trained local community member (non-clinical).

Training has already begun for these positions.

The service will be free.

“We have already got it in 277 practices across New Zealand serving about 1.8 million people. This is about starting it in Tairāwhiti,” said Ms Chiplin.

“Hauora Tairāwhiti is working with iwi, Māori health providers and primary healthcare providers right now to figure out how the service will look for the region.”

The ministry was aware of the challenges faced particularly in employing clinical workforce.

“It takes four years at least to grow as a nurse, or a psychologist or a clinician.

“In the IPMHA model, health coaches are a workforce we can grow quicker because it's people we bring from the local community who can act as peers and coaches to work alongside people.

“There is a huge strength in this workforce in terms of being able to relate and engage with people in distress.

“We are looking at growing both clinical and non-clinical workforce at the same time.

“Due to Covid-19, health improvement practitioners and health coaches have been trained virtually over the past couple of months. Ideally, the training happens face to face.”

Ms Chiplin said the ministry would be meeting with Hauora Tairāwhiti again before Christmas to discuss feedback from stakeholders and the district health board to agree on a phased roll-out, “which we are aiming to start as early as February or March”.

“There is a contract with Hauora Tairāwhiti in place which includes the initial funding for the implementation design phase and then once the service starts to roll out, the funding will also roll out with it. The contract has been signed.”

On the youth service, Ms Chiplin said the ministry had received proposals for a youth primary mental health service specific to Tairāwhiti and was currently in the process of evaluation.

“We would expect that the youth specific service will also be up and running in Tairāwhiti by March 2022 or beginning its implementation by that time.”

Hauora Tairāwhiti group manager Te Puna Waiora planning and funding Nicola Ehau said to provide clear guidance to the ministry and Hauora Tairāwhiti, mental health and addiction services would be developed locally in partnership with iwi/Māori and the local primary healthcare sector.

“The IPMHA programme of work is in the initial co-design process with our three core Māori health providers. This is to ensure the service is consistent with the Whānau First vision articulated in the Whāriki model of care.

“And that it demonstrates genuine co-leadership with iwi Māori.

“The aim is to strengthen the partnership arrangements that exist in the region and extend reach to underserved whanau and communities. It will be supported for review with Mahi Tahi.

“Ngāti Porou Hauora (NPH) are in the co-design group we are working with to consider reach. We have recently established Wa Haumaru with NPH and Tūranga Health which is the community space for whanau, and will assist and support those who may need deeper assistance.”

Part of the funding to implement preliminary preparations for the IPMHA service had been received by the DHB.

“It is sufficient to support project management and adviser costs. The training for health improvement practitioners and health coaches will be a part of the co-design process and has not started yet.”

As long as the DHB could avoid the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the new service would start as planned in February/March next year, 2022, Ms Ehau said.

The services will be funded as part of the $77 million funding allocated to the Ministry of Health's access and choice programme in Budget 2019.

Ministry of Health group manager for access and choice programme in mental health and addiction services Jo Chiplin says Tairāwhiti would see two new Mental Health Practitioner roles being introduced in primary health care services from early next year. Picture Supplied.

  1. Meke says:

    I work for Iwi, and have a Clinical and Social Work registration. How can I get to support whanau in the community with their wellbeing if my iwi service is not recognised by the culture that still exists within Hauora Tairawhiti?