Mental health workers look to adopt new care method

By Mānia Clarke

Mental health workers are looking to adopt a new treatment approach "Open Dialogue" to improve how they help families affected by mental illness. 

Supporting Families Auckland says the Australian method is the best practice of holistic care.

“You take the hierarchy out of everything, put your clinical hat just to the side, come down on the same level as we have on our marae and you sit in uncertainty with them,” said Open Dialogue social worker Paul Teki.

“You follow what's important to them and you follow their hīkoi.”

And support services say this approach is what's needed in place of the country's individualist mental care model.

“The best practice is supporting the love from families,” said Support Families Auckland board member Tama Davis.

“Within this we communicate, and through communicating we can eliminate any embarrassment.”

The latest statistics show an increase in suicide deaths with 668 people died in the year to June 30, yet many families are crying out for help to support their loved ones who are suicidal.

“Most of our families don't know how to help and what are the options to receive help,” said Kāhui Tū Kaha Pouwhirinaki Tina Kaiawe, “we are here to support them.”

“We found when we talked with the whānau and we we're talking about what's important to them we sort of got straight underneath to what was happening,” said Teki, “and we were able to take that and move it out to the side for treatment.”  

An online petition has been opened calling for nationwide government funding to implement Open Dialogue within mainstream services.