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Community Help Design Mental Health and Wellbeing Support for Children in Schools

The call is going out for local school, iwi and agency representatives to contribute to the design of the mental health and wellbeing initiative Mana Ake to support school students aged 5 – 12 years in Te Tai Tokerau to build resilience for their future.

Mana Ake is a collaborative initiative between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education. It was initially developed by school, iwi, and agency representatives in Canterbury to enhance the overall wellbeing and resilience of tamariki in the years following the earthquakes.

The initiative facilitated support for tamariki, teachers and whānau through individual and small group initiatives provided by additional kaimahi (workers) and the delivery of school wide resources to support children’s resilience, self-esteem, emotional regulation and coping with change.

Ian McKenzie, general manager for Mental Health and Addictions Services at Northland DHB, describes the scale of mental health and wellbeing needs identified in our youngest and most delicate population group as very serious.

“We need to be building their mental strength and resilience while they’re young, so they are in the best possible shape to navigate their futures,” said Ian.

“We cannot continue to work in silos – this is too important. We need to be pooling all available resources and skills to ensure our tamariki have access to the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”

Mana Ake Te Tai Tokerau project manager Ant Backhouse hopes to capture the voice of school staff, students, whānau, and the community as part of the three-month design phase.

“We are really keen to hear from as many people in Northland as we can to ensure that the final design clearly reflects their needs. We want to know what wellbeing support should look like and what additional support can be provided,” said Ant.

The co-design process will provide mechanisms to capture the students’ voices hear from school staff, hui with local iwi and hapū, and include input and advice from local agencies.

“Hearing and understanding the voice of Te Tai Tokerau is incredibly important. We all have a vested interest in seeing the next generation succeed. Our ask is that you share with us your ideas and help us design a service that is right for you and your tamariki,” said Ant.

Ian McKenzie acknowledged the good work already being done in schools, including the current rollout of increased school counselling.

“Our teachers in schools are doing an incredible job in what has been a challenging last 18 month’s. Our support workers in schools have also been required to work extremely hard to meet the increasing demand for their services. What we want to do now is design a service based on community needs and build on what is already available,” said Ian.

Mana Ake aims to be available to schools across Te Tai Tokerau from 2022, following the co-design process between now and November and will inform the final service and ensure it is the right fit for the region.

To contribute to the co-design process and provide your feedback, please go to this web page: https://www.northlanddhb.org.nz/mana-ake

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