Mental Health Services

Mental Health Team

About this service:

Counties Manukau Health is New Zealand’s second largest public health funded health provider. 

Located in the South Auckland area stretching from urban to rural settings we serve an estimated 520,000 highly diverse and youthful population with high numbers and proportions of Maaori, Pacific and Asian peoples.  Although also experiencing relatively high levels of deprivation the population is known for its vibrant, energetic and diverse communities.

Counties Manukau Health has developed a reputation for bringing an enthusiastic and innovative approach to meeting those with mental health needs.

We have a newly designed and implemented acute pathway with a centralised Intake and Acute Assessment service, a Home Based Treatment service and a hospital located 52-bed inpatient unit. 

Some of the services we provide include :

  • Whirinaki Child, Family and Youth Mental Health - specialist mental health service for children and young people.  Within this service we have specialised services for Maternal Mental Health and Infant Mental Health
  • Adult Mental health services which are both community, hospital and home based services.  We also provide culturally appropriate services for clients of Maaori, Pacific and Asian decent.
  • Mental Health services for older people

We are currently planning a state of the art replacement inpatient unit that will increase our bed numbers to 76. However most of our energy and resource is being applied in community settings where we have specialist secondary teams from maternal and infant teams, all the way up the life span to old age services. 

Our current efforts in the community are focussed on driving the integration of our secondary services with primary care and our non-government organisations that provide a wide range of support services.

Despite being very well benchmarked across New Zealand, CM Health is committed to providing the best services possible. These days at CM Health we are supporting dynamic and innovative system changes to improve the services experienced by those with mental health illness in our communities.

We can only achieve this through the quality of our clinicians and we need new talent to join our exisitng tremendously committed and hardworking workforce. We have over 600 mental health clinicians employed in our specialist services including almost 70 Specialist Psychiatrists and trainees. 

If you can bring skills, energy and want to be a part of a mental health service that provides an unparalleled breadth and depth of clinical as well as cultural experience – Counties Manukau Health is the place for you.

Click below to apply for any of these roles.


Clinical Mental Health Professionals

Consultant Psychiatrist

I am a Consultant Psychiatrist in Intellectual Disability, and Clinical Lead of the Regional Dual Disability Service.  I am also a Psychotherapy Supervisor for South Auckland Psychiatric Registrars, and recently I set up their local Balint Group. I have worked as a Consultant in Scotland and Auckland; I have been part of the Counties Manukau Health team for eight years.

I am passionate about holistic and culturally appropriate care for people with Intellectual Disability and Autism.  Here at CM Health I seek to provide this with my team, as well as to support and train other teams across the region to do so.  I am also interested in making sure that Registrars get the support and training they need, so that they are able to develop their skills, and contribute to their best ability throughout their careers.

I love the health community here; I feel that the organisation has a wonderful multi-cultural population, whose needs mean that Counties staff can make a real difference in their working lives. 

What I enjoy most about my role here is making a difference to the community; I appreciate the team I work with and team and managerial support I receive, as well as the variety of clinical cases.  We get heaps of ‘thank you’s, sometimes just for listening or trying to help.

Another aspect I love about CM Health is the good local training that is available to all staff.  A good example is the Mindfulness Meditation Course, which was set up with the help of the Auckland Buddhist Centre.  The purpose of the training is to help prevent staff burnout, and improve work-life balance, whilst improving performance at work.  This course also teaches about the option of active ‘non-doing’, ie how the right solution comes up, often without you having to strive or worry.

My opinion of what makes us unique in CM Health, is the people and how we tackle problems.  We get around the table and talk honestly about the ‘impossible’ clinical problem.  Then everyone realizes the only possible solution is if everyone does the little bit they can – and this tends to work.

As a team, we often talk about having ‘the best patients’, as we see people with significant Intellectual Disability and Mental Illness, often with Autism additionally.  They are people with high needs, for whom you can make a big difference.  Our help is often really appreciated by them, and their whanau or carers, even when in our view we haven’t been able to change much. 

The patient’s developmental level can mean that they are not able to understand what the appointment is for, and so they may be unsettled or distressed at meeting new people, and being an unfamiliar environment.  For that reason we often see people in their home environment first.  When they do come to our office, we have comforting things that they can hold, like the weighted fluffy cat in the picture, or activities to do, such as drawing materials, a jigsaw, or book with pictures, to look at together and ‘break the ice’.  This can put them at their ease, allowing us to get to know them, and who they are with, and work out what they need help with.

For me the great thing about working for Counties Manukau  Health is the sense of community spirit, and the ‘no nonsense’ way that people work practically as a team, and get on with what needs to be done, to get things right for the patient, even when the situation is more challenging than the average.  The multi-cultural nature of South Auckland works well, with all cultures being embraced, in addition to being ‘Kiwi’.  Many people stay with Counties for all their working life, making links in other departments, increasing that sense of community.

Counties Manukau is a big changing community, full of locals and immigrants who want to be here, and make the best life they can.  Most want to be part of the best of Kiwi culture.  It's friendly; I asked a Consultant Physician colleague what he notices as different here, compared to his California home, and after reflecting for a minute, he remarked that it’s the people who make the difference, for example, even his drunk patients are friendly, unlike the aggression he had come to expect in previous workplaces.


Here at Counties Manukau Health there are a multitude of different aspects that I love about my role, for me what really stands out is the real sense of communicating with people. I am constantly being amazed by the puzzles of the human brain and soul. I am never bored at the possibility of hearing a new story every day. The experience of old and new in a condensed episode - the Psychiatric history. 

I have always embraced diversity, and at CM Health you have the chance to learn the real meaning of it. I find that working here you learn that it is a humbling experience, and it teaches you a lot about yourself, about your tolerance and your limitations. 

I am extremely lucky to work in a department with extremely supportive colleagues and a strong feeling of cohesion that makes work pleasurable. I work in community old age psychiatry which means that I am not confined to an office, but I venture out often. Everybody has a voice and does not refrain in making themselves heard. The MDTs on Tuesday morning are the best way to get ideas and support from your colleagues with a lovely piece of cake somebody brings in. CM Health is unique; I haven't worked anywhere else where I am treated with a sense of belonging or exposed to the wide variety as I am here. 

There is a lot to do so you are never stuck in one place. If you want to make a difference, be part of this dynamic team that makes a real difference to the lives of the people in our community.     


What I love about my job is that I enjoy the complexity that mental health challenges represent for all concerned – from the suffer, their families and the professionals who engage in attempting to relieve the distress caused and guide a person back to a full and enjoyable life. 

I could give a multitude of examples from my 23 years of work life. I had a 17-year-old young woman who was successfully treated by me for ADHD as a 13-year-old who has been re-referred to Whirinaki with Clinical Depression. She met the criteria for depression but the depression is secondary to the grief that she was experiencing as a result of her mother being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. If she was going to get through this difficult chapter in her life, she would need good quality professional and community support (school, family, church). It is personally and professionally satisfying to have confidence in the skill set that my training has given me to be able to help this young woman manager her grief and depressive symptoms but also navigate the uncertainty/confusion the future is going to bring.

If I was to take a balanced view of my time here at CM Health I have learnt how to participate effectively in a complex system and maintain solid collegial relationships with a multitude of dedicated staff while dealing with resourcing issues and a constant series of changes that the mental health services here at CM Health has gone through. I have also learnt how to be an effective psychiatrist as a result of learning from senior colleagues and a wide range of staff with expertise in different areas of mental health.

The atmosphere here at Whirinaki is mostly a very positive one. Like any organisation we go through our ups and downs but I think we would all agree that the building is full of fantastic people doing their best to make a difference in the lives of the young people and their families who use our service.

If you want work life to be challenging but ultimately rewarding, then there would be no better place to work than Counties Manukau Health. 

What makes us different compared to other organisations are the complexities that arise from working in a community with such a diverse demographic mix forces all of us who work here at CM Health to think outside the square and innovate which the organisation is receptive to – I think that makes the biggest difference.