The Minister of Health took the opportunity to talk to children, teachers and special education needs coordinators (SENCOs) today when he visited Christchurch to talk about the innovative initiative providing wellbeing and mental health support to children.
Mana Ake – Stronger for Tomorrow offers support for children in schools years 1-8 who are experiencing ongoing concerns that impact their wellbeing including anxiety, parental separation, grief and loss or managing emotion.
In his visit to Fendalton Open Air School on Clyde Road, the Minister of Health Hon Dr David Clark said: “I want to acknowledge the work that’s already been done and the success already of the programme.
“I’m told that over 500 children have been supported individually and 120 in groups so far; that 165 schools are already involved in the programme and that a further 57 will come on board in April. That’s pretty impressive in a short time.”
The initiative was launched by the Prime Minister in February last year as the first stage of the Government’s plan to deliver dedicated mental health support to children in school years 1-8 across Canterbury.
Minister Clark continued: “Mana Ake aligns very well with the approach that our Prime Minister has signalled, having New Zealand as the best place in the world to grow up as a child. My key focus areas are mental health and equity - ensuring that everybody can access services no matter how deep their wallets, which part of town they come from or what their background is – and these things coincide with a programme like Mana Ake.”
The Minister emphasised that mental health is a significant issue for communities up and down the country and that we need to respond innovatively.
Addressing the kaimahi (workers) who work with schools to deliver Mana Ake he said: “Governments have a part to play, but it’s actually communities coming together that make it work. You are an important part of that wider mental health response and showing just what is possible when communities come together. I really wanted to pay respect today and thank you for the work that you’re doing – it’s incredibly important to the future of the children you are serving.”
Mana Ake kaimahi work with schools to support teachers, families and whānau when children are experiencing ongoing issues that impact their wellbeing such as anxiety, social isolation, parental separation, grief and loss, and managing emotions.
They can work with individual children and their families at school, in the community or at home; and with groups of children in schools. They also provide advice, guidance and support for teachers and family/ whānau.
In her welcome the school’s Principal, Raewyn Saunders, said: “Mana Ake has been a life changer for us. It’s been focused around addressing our children’s needs immediately, nipping issues in the bud rather than waiting and letting them escalate. We treasure our relationships with our kaimahi and we feel very privileged to be on the Mana Ake journey.”
Canterbury Clinical Network is responsible for leading the design and delivery of the initiative, which is a collaboration between the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, Canterbury DHB, Police, non-government organisations and consumers.
The kaimahi, recruited directly by 13 non-government organisations which make up the provider network, have a diverse range of skills and include social workers, counsellors, teachers, youth workers and psychologists. They work in schools, homes and communities.
Justine Bartlett, liaison kaimahi for Fendalton Open Air School, provided a welcome. She said: “We have five kaimahi from five NGO providers so we bring a range of skills to support children, whānau and schools. The schools in this cluster quickly made us welcome, it’s been our pleasure to work with them to shape how Mana Ake works for them. This is a developing approach and we’re excited to be part of it.”
The final roll-out of Mana Ake will take place in April this year, making it available to all children in school years 1-8 from Kaikoura to Ashburton. To find out more about Mana Ake, visit the CCN Website.