Whanganui's SUPP team prepares for April 2 launch

26 March 2015
There are high hopes that free food, live bands and spot prizes will draw a good crowd to next week’s launch of Whanganui’s new SUPP service established to help health professionals meet with young people keen to discuss their mental health and addiction concerns.

From left: AOD counsellors Helen Hagan and Kristen Hurdle (back), registered nurse Jo Barritt and AOD counsellor Andrea Edwards. Missing is SUPP team leader Mark Wood.
The SUPP team invites interested members of the community to join them at Majestic Square between 3pm and 6pm on 2 April or, if it rains, at the same time in the War Memorial Hall.
“SUPP is a nod to the commonly used expression ‘What’s up’, which over time, we hope young people will also identify with ‘Sort your Problems’, or even ‘Support your Peers’,” says  Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) alcohol and other drugs youth counsellor Andrea Edwards.
“It’s important to note that it was members of our youth forum who came up with the suggestion for the name and we seized upon it.”
“It is thanks to the WDHB’s success in receiving Ministry of Health funding to set up a service designed to reach young people aged 12-19 at risk of developing mental health and/or alcohol and other drug concerns that Whanganui is able to establish this service. The WDHB is one of six DHBs throughout the country chosen to develop an exemplar service.
“We hope to engage with a high number of the 75 percent of young people/rangatahi reluctant to seek help for substance abuse and addiction. We believe having our SUPP team work with young people and/or their families in youth friendly settings throughout the district will help us put early interventions in place to minimise harm.” 

Mrs Edwards says besides providing consultation and education to health care providers, SUPP has a youth advisory group which meets with the SUPP team once a week to discuss the ongoing direction of the service. 

The SUPP team includes five health professionals from various backgrounds and experience including nursing, counselling, alcohol and drug work, and youth work who are based in schools and community agencies providing drop-in clinics for young people to access. 

The SUPP service operates from 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. The SUPP team can be contacted on 06 348 1901 or 027 222 2231. To contact the after hour’s Mental Health Assessment and Home Treatment Team (MHAHT) please call 0800 653 358.