Mental health highlighted

Reconnect . .. Leigh Overton and Marcus Pettitt share hotdogs and a catch›up with St John paramedic Selwyn Cardno and EMT Tania Walker at the Southern Rivers Community Mental Health headquarters, Balclutha, last week. PHOTO: NICK BROOK

New Zealand Mental Health Awareness Week concluded on Sunday, during which the Southern Rivers Community Mental Health (SRCMH) team held a free sausage sizzle to highlight its presence and services.

SRCMH is next door to Clutha Health First in Clyde St, Balclutha, and offers acute and non›acute mental health services for all ages within the Clutha district with diagnosed, significant mental illness.

SRCMH occupational therapist Karen Donahue said the past two years had been particularly challenging.

‘‘We know the last two years in particular have been difficult for our community, so we are keen to let people know about our services and offer help.

‘‘We’re really grateful for New World’s sponsorship and everybody who stopped by to chat or make a donation.’’

The on›site team includes psychiatric district nurses, drug and alcohol counselling, occupational therapy, visiting psychiatrists and a specialist child, adolescent and family service.

Family doctors and other community agencies can make referrals to the services but anyone can directly contact SRCMH for help finding the right support services for mental health needs, including face to face appointments or visits at home.

A 2018 Ministry of Health report stated one in five New Zealanders aged 15 and over were diagnosed with amood and/or anxiety disorder.

A local man who had used the SRCMH team’s services said their presence had been vital.

‘‘The Balclutha team were here for me when I had nowhere else to turn and helped me turn my life around. If you’re really struggling inside, contact these guys now.’’