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March 26, 2019 | by  | in News Splash |
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Mental Health Wānanga Celebrates Work, Looks to the Future

VUWSA recently held a wānanga to discuss and celebrate the recent introduction of extra mental health support at Mauri Ora through the Piki pilot programme.

The wānanga was held on March 15 and 16 at the Tapu Te Ranga Marae in Island Bay.

It functioned both as a celebration of the work put in by local mental health activists, and an opportunity to discuss projects going into the future.

VUWSA President Tamatha Paul told Salient that those who gathered heard from former Mental Health Commissioner Mary O’Hagan, Ezekiel Raui (founder of Tu Kotahi), and activist and community organiser Kassie Hartendorp.

Paul told Salient that O’Hagan spoke about the need in Aotearoa to move away from “Big Psychiatry”, and towards “Big Community”.

Mary O’Hagan is currently a director at PeerZone and recent 61-year-old. She talked to Salient about her experience at the wānanga.

“When I was at university there was no discussion or activism in this area. None. People, like me, who struggled with distress at university, did it in silence.”

“I’ve been working… in mental health for 30 years. I’ve never felt this before but at the Wānanga I thought I can confidently pass on the baton to these young people.”

“They rock”, she concluded.

Paul also said Raui spoke about who should help those suffering with mental illness, and the responsibilities as community leaders.

Hartendorp reportedly facilitated reflections on kotahitanga, whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, and how they underpin mental health activism.

Pam Thorburn, Director of Student Academic Services, told Salient that VUW is looking forward to hearing from VUWSA to work together to improve mental health services.

“Working alongside our students is very important to us as it helps us to develop more relevant and response services for the future”, said Thorburn.

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