Ready to give support
It had been ‘‘ many, many years’’ since most of the staff from Te Kowhao had set foot in a classroom, but they are now proud graduates of a WelTec course.
Te Kowhao educates people through workshops on handling discrimination and stigma towards tangata whaiora (people living with mental illness) and is one service provided by Te Roopu Pookai Taaniwhaniwha, in Cannons Creek.
Five team members were thrilled to graduate from the 17-week Certificate in Community Support, Level 3, in Wellington on February 3.
Team co-ordinator Dale Mackey said what set them apart was that they had all experienced mental illness first-hand.
He said the certificate was designed to help people in mental health roles better understand the services available to them and what support they could, in turn, offer the community.
‘‘It wasn’t hard, it was actually quite easy but it was the training we had to do so we could do our jobs well,’’ Mr Mackey said.
Community worker Sue Makiha said it was the first qualification she had received in her life. ‘‘I’m in my 60s now’’. Workshop facilitator Jacinda Waitaiki said the ceremony felt like deja vu, reminding her of marching in a Massey University graduation gown 20 years ago.
‘‘It’s given me skills and knowledge that I can use to help other people. I’ve come from tangata whaiora [living with mental illness] to being tangata motuhake and being a person well in the absence and presence of mental illness.’’
Fellow facilitator Shirley Te Kooti is keen to further her education to reach more people.
‘‘It was a privilege to be able to go and do the course . . . I wanted to do it so I could give back to the people that gave to me and helped me at the time when I was unwell. Now, if a friend comes to me and asks me for help I will know to go with them to the doctors,’’ she says.
The graduates have started a Certificate in Mental Health, Level 4 at Whitireia.
Working together: Te Kowhao staff members, from left, Shirley Te Kooti, Jacinda Waitaiki, Sue Makiha, Tau Siilima Feite and Dale Mackey have all graduated from WelTec’s Certificate in Community Support and know what it is like to live with mental illness.