The Mental Health and Addiction Change Programme is working towards strengthening the mental health and addiction support that’s available within local communities, making it easier for people to access the support they need sooner and closer to home.
In line with this, new intake and assessment roles were established in each of MHAIDS’ Adult Community Mental Health teams and Child & Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) teams. This means that non-urgent referrals are now supported locally, by experienced clinicians with a wealth of knowledge about their local communities, rather than by the central Te Haika service.
The first Intake and Assessment Clinician roles were established in Kāpiti in early 2022.
Deborah Kinvig stepped into the Kāpiti CAMHS role last April. She carries out phone assessments of tamariki and rangatahi who have been referred to the service, alongside their whānau.
Deb, who is also a Community Mental Health Nurse with a background in supporting rangatahi, says working in her local community is important.
“When assessing young people, it’s important to establish trust and rapport. People are telling you difficult things and they can feel very uncomfortable.
“Being local helps rangatahi and whānau to feel more comfortable. Talking to someone who is living in their community establishes a kind of walking-alongside feeling.”
Her knowledge of local organisations means she can help identify the right service to support the young person. That might be through the Kāpiti CAMHS team or via an NGO provider. There is also the option to connect whānau with parent groups for extra support.
Deb spends two days a week carrying out assessments, and one day following up. She works collaboratively with others in the Kāpiti CAMHS team, attending triage reviews with the team leader and attending MDTs. She shares office space with local youth-focused NGO Kāpiti Youth Support, which she finds helpful in building relationships and gaining further insights into the community.
“I think roles like mine are a huge opportunity for us to grow community support for those in the mild to moderate range, as well as offering more opportunities for networking and collaboration.”
Early indicators suggest that across the sector, the introduction of intake and assessment roles has had benefits for people being referred to specialist mental health and addiction services, by reducing referral waiting times. A higher number of people referred are now being seen by MHAIDS within three weeks, in line with Ministry of Health key performance indicators.