New and innovative Whanganui youth group set to open next month

12 June 2014

Ucol graphic design student Anna Harbers with the SUPP identity she developed for Whanganui’s new drop-in service for young people with mental health and addiction concerns.
A new drop-in service established to encourage young people to discuss their addiction and mental health concerns with health professionals is set to ‘open its doors’ next month.

Called SUPP, it has been established thanks to the Whanganui District Health Board’s (WDHB) success in receiving Ministry of Health funding to set up a service able to reach young people who often feel isolated and afraid to ask for help. The WDHB is one of six DHBs throughout the country chosen to develop the drop-in service.
SUPP is a nod to the commonly used expression ‘What’s up’ but over time, it’s hoped young people will also identify it with ‘Sort your Problems’, or even ‘Support your Peers’.
The name came about after WDHB portfolio manager, child and youth Jon Buchan invited young people to contact him with their ideas as to how the service could be designed to make it appealing for those using it.
Mr Buchan put out a request for young people to come forward to help develop a youth focus group and brand that would ‘speak’ to them and their peers. This resulted in them coming up with the name SUPP which they considered was catchy and relevant to them.
Mr Buchan and staff from the other agencies involved in the project hope over time, young people and their families will identify the name SUPP with all WDHB youth services. Those agencies include Balance Whanganui, Supporting Families with Mental Illness, the Whanganui Regional Health Network, the Youth Service Trust and Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority.
Meanwhile, Mr Buchan says while the WDHB has services for alcohol and drugs, and for mental health, what’s been missing is a joining of the two to provide a single point of access for young people who are grappling with one or both issues.
“Instead of being hospital-based, we anticipate our new drop-in service for young people will see staff meeting and engaging with youngsters in environments they are comfortable in. The service will meet young people in multiple locations within Whanganui as well as rural towns in the region.
“This service is expected to minimise young people’s use of, and harm from, substance abuse which is all about helping them address their mental health issues by intervening early. We want to see them doing better at school, having better relationships with friends and family, and enjoying a better quality of life overall.”
The drop-in service will dovetail with the Whanganui Rising to the Challenge: The Mental Health and Addiction Service Development Framework described as the road map for Whanganui’s mental health and addiction services over the next five years and beyond.