SHARE
Sharing ideas: Attendees at last year's Wakatipu Mental Health Forum, which aimed to come up with solutions to the challenges the community's facing

By TRACEY ROXBURGH

Under-resourcing and difficulty accessing mental health services are two key challenges for
Whakatipu residents, a new report says.

The Wakatipu Mental Health Forum was held in November, attended by 80 people, including a cross-section of residents and local agency representatives, organised by Anne Marie Campbell, Daniel Sweeney, Kirsten Dennison, Vanessa van Uden, Anna Dorsey and doctor Tim Rigg.

Van Uden says the group was united in its concern over the devastating Covid-19-related impacts on locals and wanted to meaningfully contribute to guiding the wider recovery, resilience and future wellbeing of the Whakatipu.

‘‘We wanted to come together to share our thoughts and find a collective voice to highlight the challenges and potential solutions for the community, by the community.’’

The findings of the forum reveal a caring and welcoming community proud to call the Whakatipu home, with several challenges to overcome in the mental health space.

The report says there’s a ‘‘widely-held view’’ local systems were under-resourced to deal with existing and future demand on mental health services, and access to those services — both finding information they need easily and engaging with a service provider — is ‘‘a real challenge’’.

There’s also a strong desire for increased access to mental health education to raise  awareness and help overcome barriers of ‘‘stigma and culture’’.

‘‘This will empower people of all ages to better understand and talk about mental health and help communities build a more caring and resilient culture.’’

Heart-felt: Whakatipu school-kids made 654 hearts, each containing messages of hope, to represent the number of Kiwis lost to suspected suicides in 2019-20

Increased community connection’s perceived to be the key to fostering and maintaining positive mental health, particularly by those who are isolated from family and support networks.

However, the Whakatipu also had several important strengths, the report found, including its accessibility to nature which offers a wealth of opportunities to support wellbeing, which could be further optimised.

And, while there are ‘‘amazing community groups, services and events creating invaluable health and wellbeing opportunities’’, more can be done to build and support them to ensure as many people as possible benefited.

‘‘There is real wealth to be explored in the community, both in terms of having talented,
resourceful, diverse and innovative people in abundance, and offering access to new income streams for services and projects.

‘‘With better connections and more local focus, the community can help co-create solutions, find new funding and provide the resources to deliver them,’’ the report found.

Van Uden says the report’s been shared with relevant organisations and community networks and is publicly available on the Wakatipu Mental Health Forum Facebook page.

tracey.roxburgh@scene.co.nz

Helplines

●  Need to Talk?  1737, free 24/7 phone and text number
●  Healthline:  0800 611 116
●  Lifeline Aotearoa:  0800 543 354
●  Suicide Crisis Helpline:  0508 828 865
●  Samaritans:  0800 726 666
●  Alcohol and Drug Helpline:  0800 787 797
●  General mental health inquiries:  0800 443 366
●  The Depression Helpline:  0800 111 757