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More mental health workers in the community

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Those facing mental health and wellness challenges in Hawke’s Bay will have more people to turn to with a new team of health workers about to start work in the community.

Ten people have been recruited to work alongside selected general practice teams as part of a new service being rolled out by the region’s Primary Health Organisation, Health Hawke’s Bay. The Integrated Primary Mental Health Programme is funded by the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board.

Health Hawke’s Bay Chief Executive Wayne Woolrich said the new model of care aims to increase access to and choice of primary mental health, addiction, and wellness services.

"It provides people with free and fast access to a registered mental health clinician," Mr Woolrich said.

Three new positions are being established to work alongside selected general practices including: The Doctors Napier and Hastings, Tamatea Medical Centre, Maraenui Medical Centre, Carlyle Medical, Hastings Health Centre, Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga and Queen Street Practice in Wairoa.

The Health Improvement Practitioners are registered health professionals who provide prompt support for people enrolled within the general practice.

Health Coaches are a non-clinical workforce from a variety of backgrounds who will use their own experience and training to partner with people to build their own skills, knowledge and confidence to better manage their health and wellbeing.

Both these positions are based within the practice, which means that a GP or nurse can offer the patient the option of seeing the most appropriate person quickly in the same location.

Community Support Workers will provide additional support in the community for individuals and their whānau to help them achieve their wellness goals.

Hastings Health Centre Chief Executive Officer Andrew Lesperance said these new roles are definitely needed as Hastings Health Centre doctors have seen more people with mental health related concerns, since the onset of COVID-19.

"With daily news covering the international pandemic, some find it more difficult to cope and the new mental health service providers will be ideally positioned to provide advice and support for those needing brief interventions," Mr Lesperance said.

"Patients will benefit from an on-the-day service, especially when the service provider is able to provide brief interventions and skills that assist the person suffering from anxiety or something similar to deal with their issue. Learning to manage anxiety or stress will have a flow on effect as the mind and body are connected."

New staff members were formally welcomed into their new roles with a pōwhiri on Monday. This team will undergo training and be ready to support patients at their assigned practices by mid-February. While available to only a select number of practices initially, the goal is to have these services available in all Hawke’s Bay general practices within three years.

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