Whanganui leads effort in helping young people experiencing mental health issues

WDHB Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service clinical manager Sean Moloney
WDHB Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service clinical manager Sean Moloney says Whanganui has been singled out as a leader in the Gateway programme.
12 October 2012
Whanganui is being hailed a success story for the way in which the district’s medical and social services are working collaboratively to support young people experiencing mental illness. WDHB Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service clinical manager Sean Moloney says Whanganui has been singled out as a leader in the Gateway programme - a cross-sector, collaborative exploration of the needs of children in the care of Child, Youth and Family.
“Ministry of Social Development staff responsible for monitoring Gateway around the country say our medical and social services are doing a wonderful job sharing information, working together and creating a seamless approach to meeting the needs of our young, vulnerable people and their whanau,” Mr Moloney says.
“The recent move to co-locate the WDHB’s Child, Adolescent and Mental Health Service with Child and Women’s Health has encouraged the two services to share information and work together to provide the best possible care for the overall health needs of our young people.”
Mr Moloney says the Ministry of Health’s much publicised expectation that agencies involved in supporting young people’s health needs have to ‘talk to each other’, is spot on. He says given that it’s widely accepted that mental health and general wellbeing go hand-in-hand, government services have a responsibility to work together.
 “I’m very supportive of the Ministry’s Rising to the Challenge, Mental Health and Addiction Service Development Plan 2012 – 2017 (currently out for consultation) which I believe will give us a strong strategic direction for enhancing the mental health of all New Zealanders over the next five years.”
“The Rising to the Challenge plan is informed by the Mental Health Commission’s Blueprint II document which acknowledges that everyday factors such as a person’s income, housing, engagement in education, and ability to find work impact on the mental health and general wellbeing of themselves and their family. It makes sense that when someone is mentally unwell, we consider these factors as parts of a much broader picture,” Mr Moloney says.
“For our young people in the Gateway programme who are facing multiple health and social challenges it’s absolutely vital that every agency working with them pulls together to get the best outcome. We know that the first three years of a child’s life can determine how they will develop as an adult so if a child’s first three years are ‘chaotic’, they and their parents are more likely to need multi-agency support.
“This might involve ensuring that the child remains engaged with education, helping the family with their housing needs, helping parents find employment or helping parents deal with their drug and alcohol problems. We can’t address the major issues of poverty and child abuse unless we take a multi-agency approach.
“Making sure young, vulnerable people attend school is a big issue for us in Whanganui. Disengaging with school and education can leave children and teenagers susceptible to making wrong lifestyle choices which in turn can lead to mental health issues later in life.”
Mr Moloney says he knows Whanganui agencies are helping to improve the lives of many young people and he’s particularly proud that Whanganui’s Gateway programme has been singled out as a leader in this effort. “If Whanganui can do this successfully then so too can the rest of the country,” he says.