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Counties Manukau Health providing mental health and addiction support in schools and primary care

Media Release 11 June 2019 | Counties Manukau Health’s (CM Health) four integrated locality care (ILoC) teams are supporting primary care professionals to respond more effectively to the mental health and addiction needs of their clients.

 With a strong focus on prevention and early intervention, it links expertise from DHB specialist services, NGOs, general practice (GP) nurses and doctors, and school counsellors and nurses to provide a joined up and tailored approach to mental wellbeing.  

 Mental health and addiction clinicians and support workers engage with and fit in with how schools and primary care work to provide advice, assessments, brief interventions and education, to reduce the likelihood that people will need these services later.

 “With DHB clinicians and NGO support workers working alongside primary care partners, our aim is to enable and support a comprehensive and whaanau-focused response to a person’s overall wellbeing”, says CM Health Service Development Manager Wendy Brown. 

 CM Health Occupational Therapist Nalika Ranchhod and Pukekohe High School Head Counsellor Sita Bakker are both passionate about working with youth. They have been working together for over two years.

“I meet with Sita to talk about specific students and to offer direction for their care; but when necessary I can also see young people to provide brief intervention with the purpose of getting them back on the right track, before reaching crisis point,” says Nalika. 

 A key component of her work is up-skilling school staff to implement support groups in schools where students learn skills to manage distressful situations.

  “The kids love it. They are learning life skills that can be used to manage every day difficult situations which may otherwise turn into crises”, says Nalika.

 “I plan and facilitate the group alongside Sita and by doing so I am handing over skills that she can then pass on to students and other staff. At the same time I am learning from her knowledge about how certain school dynamics are impacting our youth.”

 For Sita, the groups give a chance for the young person to unravel some of their challenges in a safe way.

 “We talk about real scenarios, things that they can relate to and help them negotiate real issues according to their values,” says Sita.

 “They learn skills they can use throughout their life and feel more connected to others who experience the same issues.”

 According to Sita, students are presenting with increasingly complex issues and it is more effective to partner up with the DHB and other organisations.

 “We can achieve so much more for our young people by working together,” says Sita.

 CM Health ILoC currently works with 14 schools, 38 GPs, 20 aged-residential care providers and two marae-based clinics. The intention is to continue to grow ILoC, focussing initially on general practices and schools.


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