Every year, up to 1 in 5 people are affected by a mental health issue in New Zealand. Organisations like the West Auckland Mental Health Support Trust are doing incredible work in the community. Known as Te Ata, this peer-led service reduces isolation and connects people facing mental health challenges with each other.
The registered charity is based in Henderson and opened its doors in 1998. 'We are a peer-run support, education and activity service for West Aucklanders experiencing mental health issues,' explains Te Ata's co-ordinator Tracey Cannon.
The Te Ata team and several governance board members have personal experience with mental health or addiction issues. This means they have a unique insight into the challenges people face.
‘We provide an inclusive, supportive environment where people feel valued for who they are,’ says Tracey.
Te Ata’s open and friendly space in Keeling Road offers a varied programme. Tracey advises that the service has around 400 members on the database, with about 100 people attending each week. Among the options available are poetry writing, art and pottery classes. And there's plenty of light-hearted fun with karaoke and pool competitions. Furthermore, one-on-one support and advocacy are available to help people get back on their feet.
Tracey says that members come to Te Ata for many reasons. Some want companionship and friendship. Others are after encouragement and support to reconnect with the community. Everyone is made to feel welcome regardless. ‘We encourage members’ active participation and involvement. And we aim to build wellbeing through connecting, learning, and creativity,’ reports Tracey.
As a charity, Te Ata relies on grants and donations to keep the centre operating and delivering the services people so desperately need. And the support of the Your West Support Fund has made things easier. Funding of $10,000 is being used to cover operational and staff costs.
‘The Your West Support Fund has helped give us much-needed certainty,’ says Tracey. ‘The funding allows us to continue supporting local people impacted by mental health issues,’ she adds.
Te Ata is based at unit H 2&3, 52 Keeling Road. The service is free, and you don’t need a referral. Anyone is welcome to pop in. Check out the website for more information.