Psychiatrist’s new role


A former Queenstowner has returned to her roots to boost mental health services in the Wakatipu.

Jo Thornton’s about six weeks into her role as a psychiatrist working for the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) in Frankton.

Hers is a new role created by the SDHB to counter growing demand for mental health services in the area.

The chance to move back to Queenstown was too good to pass up for Thornton, whose family is from the area.

“I’ve always had connections with Queenstown because I was actually born here.

“We lived on a farm in Arrowtown until the early 1960s and then moved to Dunedin. My family have been up here since the 1860s.”

The new role was revealed by Scene back in June, with SDHB mental health, addictions and intellectual disability boss Brad Strong saying all mental health and addiction services across the Southern area, and nationwide, are experiencing increasing numbers of people needing to access services.

Strong said the health board was boosting its network of staff at hospitals and in the community who could provide help.

Thornton says the new position reflects Queenstown’s increasing population, and “just increasing need in the population”.

The main issues facing Queenstowners are the same as many other places, she says.

“A lot of depression and anxiety, drug and alcohol issues, psychotic illnesses, it’s pretty much the same everywhere.”