Engage Aotearoa

Category Archives: Older People And Aging

Information about mental health for older people

People’s Review of the Mental Health System

Share your story and help create a better mental-health system.

The people at Action Station have teamed up with Kyle MacDonald to create a People’s Review of the Mental-Health System. They want to gather together as many personal stories as possible, to convince our politicians of the need for improvements.

Their question to you is simple: what has your experience of the public mental health system been?

The public invitation goes on to say “Everyone has a story about mental health in New Zealand. Whether you work as a mental health professional, have experienced the mental health system directly yourself or someone in your family has, your story matters. We don’t need more statistics, the numbers already add up to make it clear that we have a crisis and need urgent action, and still nothing has been done. But personal stories can do what numbers cannot – they can move Ministers to action. Stories create empathy, and empathy creates change.

Find out more here.

Dr Gwyn Lewis: a modern understanding of arthritis

18th April University of Auckland, 10.00 – 11.00

Presenter Dr Gwyn Lewis:  Gwyn’s presentation will focus on a modern understanding of arthritis related pain, avoiding pain pitfalls and future directions in the treatment of arthritis related pain.

Associate Professor Gwyn Lewis is a neurophysiologist based at AUT University’s North Shore Campus in Auckland. She obtained a PhD in motor control from the University of Auckland in 2003. Gwyn had an extended post-doctoral experience undertaking research in motor control, rehabilitation and neurophysiology at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. She currently spends half her time teaching in AUT’s physiotherapy programme and the other half undertaking pain research in the Health and Rehabilitation Research Institute. Most of her research is in pain neurophysiology and how it relates to persistent pain development, pain modulation pathways, and the cognitive factors and psychosocial influences affecting pain.

Contact: Carol Lovatt, Northern Regional Administrator, Arthritis New Zealand, Kaiponapona Aotearoa
Ph: 09 523 8900
Email:  carol.lovatt@arthritis.org.nz
Support the person in your family who has arthritis.
Phone 0900 33320 OR Donate via our website www.arthritis.org.nz

5 things I’ve learned about surviving my darkest struggles

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Five things I’ve learned about surviving my darkest struggles

Recovery Note #3

~ Taimi Allan


1. De-claw the Bear

Talking about the most difficult stuff (the unwanted thoughts, the frightening images, fears, guilt and panic) takes their power away. These things are waking nightmares designed by my brain to purge the rubbish and if I don’t find a way to let them out and dispose of them they become a self-destruct mechanism. Speaking them aloud to someone empathetic and non-judgmental I can trust helps me to challenge their hold on me, come up with more balanced perspectives and talk through cause and solution.

2. Look for physical and environmental causes

Sure there are some moments where my distress/depression/mania/psychosis is an equal and opposite reaction to an external, significant, negative event; those moments are really tough and life feels very unfair. The upside of horrible things happening to me though is that it’s easy to see why my brain is in meltdown, and get support and empathy from others. Sometimes, however, it just hits me like a sledge hammer from seemingly out of the blue. In these times my experience tells me there is usually a physical cause, maybe my hormones have gone haywire, I’ve developed a food allergy, eaten unhealthily for too long (or not eaten at all) or typically, I’ve not had enough sleep. I know now that if I address the physical stuff, nurture my temple then my mental health follows.

3. Avoid the Sirens-song of Substances

We all know the myths of sailors lured by beautiful Siren song only to become shipwrecked on the rocks. It is very easy in my darkest moments to reach out for the easiest means of escape. “Self medication” for me nowadays is junk food and wine. In my darkest moments it is tempting to use them, or something more destructive as a quick way of blocking out, avoiding or putting off dealing with what’s really going on. I learned the hard way that even taking a single step in this direction when I’m unwell is bad, bad news. As difficult as it is, I need to remove the temptation completely from my home, my friendships and my life until the moment has passed and I feel in control enough to simply eat respectfully and drink in moderation.

4. Observe moments of choice

Mental distress is like a pot-bellied stove, it gets stronger by feeding on every little piece of negativity and fear and yet it is warm and inviting. It is easy to fall into the comfort of distress, it sounds contradictory but life IS unfair and horrible so sometimes the only thing I really want to do is escape under the bed-covers, take a respite from responsibility and shut out the world. In every single millisecond however I know I have a choice to turn that around. I forgive myself for needing a moment to wallow, then as soon as I notice the moment that don’t have to punish myself or anyone else, I make the conscious choice to do something different.

5. Take responsibility

Here’s the truth as I see it for me; it is not the rest of the world, the people around me, services, doctors or pharmaceuticals job to ‘cure’ or ‘fix’ me. They are helpful aides when I need support, but without my buy-in, they actually don’t have much effect. In fact, if I blame anyone or anything outside of myself I know the situation very quickly deteriorates. That doesn’t mean I need to blame myself, but adopting a radical acceptance of the situation I’ve found myself in and a willingness to do everything I can to improve it gives me back some semblance of control. It’s fair to say that when I’m at my worst, I feel completely out of control, so this step towards autonomy is imperative to becoming whole again.

~ Taimi Allan

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About the author: Taimi Allan has worked as a mental health consultant since 2009. She is most well known in the field for innovative and engaging health promotion strategies that challenge attitudes, inspire creativity and entertain audiences.

Read more Recovery Notes here 

Recovery Notes is an Engage Aotearoa project that asks people to share the top five tips and insights they have learned from or about their personal experiences of mental-health recovery or being a supporter.

Write your own Recovery Note

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Copyright (c) Engage Aotearoa, 2014

5 things I’ve learned about supporting friends in distress

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Five things I’ve learned about supporting friends in distress

Recovery Note #2

by Sheree Veysey


As a person who has experienced my fair share of mental distress and who now works in the counselling field, I have learned a few things about how to be there for someone who is upset and how to ask others to be there for me.  I wish this list had been available for me to give my friends and supporters in times  past – I lost a few of them, at least partly because of the stress that supporting a friend who has longer term “stuff” going on put on our relationship.

1. You don’t need to fix: you don’t need to make someone feel better

We live in a fixing culture, and often when someone tells us what’s going on for them, we jump immediately to problem solving, or ideas for the person to do things differently to make them feel different. This is often not helpful as frequently the person can feel that they are not heard. This may also give the message that their less pleasant feelings are somehow ‘wrong’ and that if they tried harder to ‘fix’ them they would not have issues…

Instead of aiming to help someone feel better, if we concentrate on listening to their experience and validating it then often the person will walk away feeling heard, less alone, (and not surprisingly often feeling a touch better). Validating people’s feelings and experience is about just acknowledging where they are: “I can see how you would feel that…” “Wow, that’s a lot going on” “No wonder you feel overwhelmed.”

The opposite is invalidation (e.g. “I don’t see what the big deal is.” “There’s no reason to get so upset”) which can leave people feeling isolated and awful about themselves.

2. Friend and support versus therapist…

If someone is dealing with high levels of distress, then I would be strongly encouraging them to be engaged with health services (doctor, counselling, psychologist, mental health services) rather than just using friends for support. Counsellor’s and others who work with people in distress receive comprehensive training and regular supervision. Part of the reason they are able to offer such intensive listening and support to a person is because of this- and also because the time they give has boundaries around it and clear expectations.

When we try to be there for someone in a lot of distress outside of these professional relationships, often we start out with lots of energy and listening time and empathy. However, if the distress is not short lived, we often run into problems because we have not put boundaries around our time and availability. We  tell our friend to call us at any time of the day and night- and when they start doing this, the supporter can be left burnout, not wanting to hear from their friend, guilty about feeling this way and sometimes even experiencing what is called ‘vicarious trauma’ from listening to really difficult and traumatic experiences.

If you are aware of this pitfall, then you can set some boundaries with the person. Boundaries are our friends! Some of these may not need to be discussed and you can just hold them in your own head, others you might like to talk about. You need to be clear about where your lines in the sand are about what you can and cannot offer: Are there things you don’t feel able to talk about with the friend and you would prefer they saw a professional? How late is it okay to call? What about if they are intoxicated? What if they are feeling that they might harm themselves? What if they want to stay over?

3. Think long haul 

The boundary setting above is crucial if you intend to keep this person in your life long term.

I have had times in my life when a dear friend has let me know she isn’t available for any support at this time. While in the moment I would have preferred it to be different, I also understood that her letting me know this was about her wish to be a friend for the long haul and to do this, she needed to prioritise her wellbeing.

I would far rather have her in my life for years to come, than lose this friendship because she got exhausted. In return I have learned to set similar boundaries with friends in distress – letting them know I care very deeply but I don’t have the capacity for support right now. I would always encourage people to be developing a number of supports for themselves- I feel it leads to far healthier relationships.

Some people experiencing distress are hyper aware of asking for ‘too much’, and as a result often won’t ask for support they need because of their fear. Talking about this issue can really encourage them to reach out at the appropriate time, knowing you will be able to say “not today” if you need to.

4. Reciprocity

When I was a teenager I had a good friend who didn’t tell me until weeks afterward that she was living with another family for a while because her parents were fighting and might be splitting up. I asked her why she hadn’t told me, and she said that she didn’t want to put any other stress on me because I was having such a hard time. I heard her thoughtfulness, but at the same time I was dismayed, because I didn’t just want a friend- I wanted the chance to be a friend. I would have liked to take the opportunity to give back to her with some listening and support. Our friendships work best when there are vaguely equal amounts of give and take- so don’t be afraid to ask your friend who is distressed for things you might need. If they can’t give this at the time- well this is also a good chance for them to practice boundary setting and say no (remember- boundaries are our friends).

5. Look after yourself

You matter, and you need to keep an eye on your own well-being. Sometimes when someone we love is really struggling we can tell ourselves we should just keep giving and giving to them because they are having a harder time than us. In the long term, this really does not do ourselves or them any good.

Don’t underestimate the stress of having someone you care about really struggling. Good sleep, a wide variety of food, some sunshine and physical activity are all important! Turn to your supports, and even think about seeing a professional if you feel you need to. This is great modelling to our friends, families and children.

Arohanui

Sheree Veysey

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Sheree Veysey is a counsellor from Auckland offering counselling and coaching via Skype and face to face at www.lifeinprogress.co.nz. Her own journey toward wellbeing inspired her to work with people and offer them the compassion that helped her healing. Sheree is also a writer, dog owner, auntie and part-time performer.

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Read Recovery Note #1: Five things I’ve learned about food and my mood

Updated Online Resources Pack Now Available

The Online Resources Pack was given an overhaul last week and the latest update is now available on the Info Packs page of the Engage Aotearoa website.

Direct link: www.engagenz.co.nz/?page_id=116

What is the Online Resources Pack? 

The Online Resources Pack is an information pack, full of links to web-based resources for mental-health recovery. This includes resources for distraction and entertainment as well as mental-health resources. Roughly 50% of websites sharing information about mental health are funded by pharmaceutical companies and present a bio-medical view of mental health. The Online Resources Pack brings together independent forms of web-based information that share psycho-social and/or lived experience perspectives and tools. The Online Resources Pack is updated on a regular basis. The team tries to check content prior to inclusion, but it is impossible to check every part of every website. If you find something stigmatising in one of the links included in the Online Resources Pack, please get in touch. To contribute content or suggest an edit to the Online Resources Pack, email EngageAotearoa@gmail.com

What’s New in the 29 November ’13 Update?

  • Content is now divided into sub-sections so it is easier to find what you are looking for. 
    • Distraction/Entertainment/Inspiration
    • Information and Reading
    • Online Self-Help
    • Online Support Groups and Networks
    • Recovery Stories
  • Two new pages of links to explore, including new…
    • CBT resources
    • DBT resources
    • ACT resources
    • Recovery blogs by people with Bipolar Disorder
    • Recovery blogs by people with Borderline Personality Disorder
    • Suicide prevention information
    • International service-user initiatives
    • and more…

The Online Resources Pack is designed to be shared

  • Print a copy and leave it in a public place or give it to someone you know
  • Email the link to your networks
  • Share it on Facebook
  • Share it on your website

How to Share the Online Resources Pack on your Website 

Use the URL below to link to the Online Resources Pack from your own website. < http://www.engagenz.co.nz/?page_id=116 >

Using this URL ensures your link will never go out of date. It also allows Engage Aotearoa to track wider community use of the resource and ensures appropriate acknowledgements for the resource.

The Butterfly Diaries Volume 1: Launch & Order Details

The Butterfly Diaries Volume 1 is a FREE book of inspiring stories and personal tips from four people who have recovered from the experience of being suicidal.

Launch Details:

NOTE: Event Moved to Sunday 13th of October due to rain forecast for Saturday the 12th. 

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Engage Aotearoa will be launching The Butterfly Diaries Volume 1 at Fiesta in the Park on the 13th of October for Mental Health Awareness Week. Come along to the free public concert and pop into The Butterfly Diaries Tent – a quiet corner covered in white paper butterflies where you can stop by to decorate a butterfly with a survival tip of your own, pick up a copy of the book, relax with a copy in the reading corner or listen to the authors and editors read from the book.

  • Where: Fiesta in the Park, Western Park, Ponsonby, Auckland
  • When: From midday Sunday 13 October 2012
    Reading Times:
    12:30 – 1:00 pm Michelle Bolton reads from Breathe and Breathe and Breathe by Phoebe Wright
    1:30 – 2:00 pm Owen Bullock reads from Enough Angels
    2:30 – 3:00 pm Miriam Larsen-Barr reads from Welcome to Today by Henrietta Bollinger
  • 3:30 – 4:00 pm Raewyn Alexander reads from Emerging from the Past, Transformed

The Butterfly Diaries, Volume 1
Four true stories of transformation told by four New Zealand writers.

  • Stories by Raewyn Alexander, Henrietta Bollinger, Owen Bullock and Phoebe Wright.
  • Foreword by Mike King
  • Edited by Miriam Larsen-Barr and Michelle Bolton

In Aotearoa, New Zealand, 1 in 6 people have suicidal thoughts each year. It is a normal human response to feel hopeless sometimes. It takes a great deal of distress tolerance, brute determination, skill development, support and understanding to survive the urge to act on those thoughts and feelings when they arise. But hardly anyone ever talks about suicidal thoughts and feelings, making it even harder for people to find out how to get through. The Butterfly Diaries gives voice to the stories of those who have been there and made it out alive. Sean, Jane, Mary and Brad have all been suicidal, survived their own suicide attempts and found their way to a place where they are glad to be living their lives. In The Butterfly Diaries they share how they strengthened their wings and learned to fly.

The first edition of The Butterfly Diaries Volume 1 will be placed in high-schools and GP waiting rooms across the NZ, to make recovery stories easy to find. Suicide rates peak among youth and most people who are suicidal visit a GP in the months leading up to making an attempt, even if they do not talk about how they are really feeling.

How to Order Copies

You can nominate a service or person to receive a copy of The Butterfly Diaries or order a copy for yourself by making a donation on the Engage Aotearoa website to cover the cost of posting your book. Just fill in your details and give the delivery address in the space provided. The minimum donation is set at NZ$2.50 (the cost of NZ postage and handling). A donation of $5 will get a copy posted for you and cover the costs of printing a copy for someone else.

Click here to order a copy of The Butterfly Diaries

Contact Engage Aotearoa for more information

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Want to help prevent suicide in NZ?

You can help get more copies of The Butterfly Diaries out there for people to read. Sponsor a print run by making a donation on the Engage Aotearoa website.  Every donation over $5 is tax deductible. A $20 donation pays for eight more books. A $500 donation prints enough books for a small school. 

Health Select Committee Meeting About Petition for Better Mental-Healthcare Choices in NZ

Update: The Health Select Committee is not accepting submissions from the public for their meeting on the Petition for Better Mental-Healthcare Choices in NZ at this stage, as was advertised in the August 5th notice below. Submissions are to be accepted only from the petitioner (Annie Chapman) and the Ministry of Health.

As public submissions are typically invited, the team at Engage thought the same would be true of the meeting about the Petition for Better Mental-Healthcare Choices. We apologise for any inconvenience and frustration caused to anyone who had prepared or sent a submission in.

Engage Aotearoa has sent their submission in and encouraged the chair to consider it anyway.

Click here to read Engage Aotearoa’s Submission on the Petition for Better Mental-Healthcare Choices.

We will keep working to turn our recommendations into realities,” says Engage Aotearoa service director, Miriam Larsen-Barr, “It’s what we do anyway and it won’t be the last opportunity we have to reach the decision-makers with our ideas for how to make the recovery journey easier for people living in NZ.

If you feel strongly about these issues and wonder how you can be part of the change in an ongoing way – contact Engage Aotearoa and introduce yourself. The team of volunteers is always keen for more hands on deck and more perspectives for the mix. Email admin@engagenz.co.nz

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5.08.2013

The Petition for Better Mental-Healthcare Choices in NZ had it’s first reading by the Health Select Committee on the 10th of July and submissions are invited by the 23rd of August.

Find out more about making a submission here.

If these options are difficult for you, contact the chairperson of the Health Select Committee Paul Hutchison paul.hutchison@parliament.govt.nz 

Contact Annie Chapman for more information on hikoiforhealth@gmail.com 

Click here to visit the Hikoi website.

Mike King Korero Heads to Taranaki Region in September

Mike King and Tai Tupou are hitting the road again in September to encourage schools and communities to make it cool to korero about the tough stuff, so we all make it through.

  • 10 September, 1 pm, Cool to Korero, Francis Douglas College, New Plymouth
  • 10 September, 7:30 pm, Community Korero, War Memorial Hall, Stratford
  • 11 September, 7:30 pm, Community Korero, Waves Building, New Plymouth
  • 11 September, 12:30 am, Cool to Korero for Hawera High and Patea Area School, The Hub, Hawera
  • 12 September, 11:30 am, Combined Community Cool to Korero, Opunake College, Opunake

While the team at Key to Life are getting ready to hit the road, the team at Engage Aotearoa will be adding recovery resources from each of these towns to The Community Resources Directory, so they can be delivered to those who need them when the team hits the ground in each of their locations across Taranaki. If you know of any services in the Taranaki region you think others would find useful, email them in.

Engage Community Resources Directory Updated 3 July 2013

The Engage Community Resources Directory has had another round of updates added, including…

  • A Psychiatrists Section that lists most of the community mental-health services in the country
  • More Crisis Teams
  • Rotorua, Tokoroa, Hamilton therapists added
  • Plus other services that have been sent in from community members. Keep them coming, guys!

The information manager at Engage Aotearoa still has stacks of services waiting to be added, so keep an eye out for next month’s update. As usual, there is so much more waiting to be shared.

Visit The Community Treasure Chest to check out your own copy of The Community Resources Directory.

 

Consultation on Proposal to Change Home-Based Support Services in WDHB Area

C O N S U L T A T I O N ON PROPOSAL TO CHANGE HOME-BASED SUPPORT SERVICES

Waitemata District Health Board are proposing to change the current model of care for the provision of Home and Community Support Services funded within the Waitemata District Health Board area.

Waitemata District Health Board is consulting with its communities and stakeholders on a proposal that may change the model of care for home-based support services within the district. The aim of the proposed model is to ensure clients receive services based on the level of need and that they are empowered to achieve optimal functioning and independence.

Waitemata DHB encourage you to provide feedback.

PROPOSAL

The proposal and other relevant documents are available on the Waitemata District Health Board website.

View Online – Visit: www.waitematadhb.govt.nz to view the proposal and other relevant documents.

Request a hard copy – contact Imelda Quilty-King, Community Engagement Coordinator, Waitemata DHB on mobile: 0212236099 or by email: hbssconsultation@waitematadhb.govt.nz if you wish to request a hard copy or if you have any other query on this proposal.

FEEDBACK

Online – Visit www.waitematadhb.govt.nz to complete a survey using survey monkey.

By post – Request a hard copy or print off the feedback form from the

website and post it the Waitemata District Health Board.

Request a Face to Face meeting – The Waitemata DHB is not holding public meetings however your organisation/group is welcome to request a face-to-face meeting with us by contacting Imelda Quilty-King, Community Engagement Coordinator, Waitemata DHB on mobile: 0212236099 or by email: hbssconsultation@waitematadhb.govt.nz

 

Feedback closes at 5pm, Monday 24 June 2013.