The Mana Ake – Stronger for Tomorrow initiative achieved a special milestone this week when they welcomed 19 new team members, marking the final scheduled intake of dedicated wellbeing and mental health workers to support Canterbury’s five to 12 year olds.
Hector Matthews led the welcome for the new workers (kaimahi) at a Mihi Whakatau, held at the Canterbury District Health Board’s Design Lab on 1 April.
Clare Shepherd introduced the new kaimahi to Maia, the hypothetical child that Mana Ake holds central to everything they do. “The work we do focuses on supporting Maia to grow and be as strong and well-grounded as she can be, in the context of her whānau and community.”
She stressed the important part that each person in the health, education and social system plays in achieving the best possible outcomes for Maia.
“Alliancing is really important to the way we work in ensuring resources across the system are accessed at the right time so Maia learns, grows and is supported socially and emotionally,” said Clare.
“As new kaimahi coming into the Mana Ake whānau you will play an important part in development of the way we work, as your colleagues before you have. You will see new opportunities along the way which will help us enrich this service.”
Mana Ake was established in March 2018 to promote wellbeing and deliver dedicated wellbeing and mental health support to children in school years 1-8 across Canterbury. It was first rolled out to schools in the Tamai and Uru Mānuka Kāhui Ako (Communities of Learning) on 23 April 2018.
Sir John Hansen, Independent Chair of the Canterbury Clinical Network and the Mana Ake service level alliance echoed the welcome and acknowledged the hard work that's gone into getting the service up and running so quickly.
“It’s been said of the initiative, that we’re designing and building a ship while sailing it through the storm and it’s true that this has been a very fast-paced implementation. I can’t think of anything else that’s been rolled out in this sort of timeframe and that is due to the level of cooperation between partners.
“It’s been an amazing achievement that’s in large part due to the work of the project team and, importantly, the work that you have all done on the frontline.”
The 19 new workers will have a three-week induction before starting work in 54 schools across seven clusters, as well as the 8 private schools not in existing clusters, next term (29 April). They’ll provide support when children are experiencing ongoing issues that impact their wellbeing such as anxiety, social isolation, parental separation, grief and loss, and managing emotions.
Kaimahi have a diverse range of skills and include social workers, counsellors, teachers, youth workers and psychologists. 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.
Canterbury Clinical Network is responsible for leading the design and delivery of this initiative, which is a collaboration between the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, Canterbury DHB, Police, non-government organisations and consumers. To find out more, download the flyer or visit the CCN website > Focus Areas > Mana Ake – Stronger for Tomorrow.