Nikau House ‘invaluable’
At her lowest point, Tina Lane had lost her job, her home and was living on the streets battling ‘‘debilitating depression’’.
Several years on, the Nelson woman is living a ‘‘happy and independent life’’ and credits Nikau House as being the first mental health service to nurture her back to wellbeing.
The centre is facing closure under a Nelson Marlborough Health proposal to close the longstanding mental health facility.
As a nurse, Lane spent 25 years working in hospitals in New Zealand and overseas. During that time, she hid her depression in order to function at a high level.
But when she turned 40, things began to fall apart. She was admitted to a mental health unit in Waikato – a ‘‘terrifying and isolating experience’’.
Due to the severity of her depression and an attempt to take her life, Lane was given electroconvulsive therapy as part of her treatment. When she left the unit after several weeks, she said there was little after-care.
‘‘Every time I tried to start anew and get my life back on track, I’d be hit with another debilitating depression. I felt crippled by it.’’
She cycled through a number of mental health services, where she received fragmented care.
‘‘It was not uncommon for me to leave a mental health unit only to find myself completely alone and trying to sort things out for myself.
‘‘In my reduced mental capacity this was very difficult and much to my distress, I became part of the revolving-door phenomenon so prevalent in mental health services.’’
It was the beginning of an itinerant lifestyle which saw her end up living on the streets in Tauranga.
‘‘Quite simply, I was a mess.’’ Moving to Nelson, where Nikau House is based, turned out to be a ‘‘happy accident’’.
She was reluctant to engage with the service, having experienced different mental health services over the years with little success.
‘‘Despite my initial reticence, however, I was nurtured back to a state of mental and physical wellbeing by the staff.’’
Lane had found a ‘‘second family’’ in the seven years she had been at Nikau House, which was important as her own family live in the North Island and overseas.
She said its link to Nelson Hospital and a number of community-based services meant it provided complete care.
‘‘They have a holistic, recovery-based approach that I have never experienced in any other mental health service.’’
She said the community mental health facility was an ‘‘irreplaceable gem’’.
It provided ‘‘top of the cliff’’ prevention instead of being an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff and was a crucial interface between primary and secondary services.
Lane said the support of Nikau was ‘‘invaluable’’ in enabling her to get her life back on track. She now works as a duty manager at a Nelson restaurant, and is living an independent and happy life.
While she remained well and no longer needed the level of support she once did, Lane felt safe in the knowledge that Nikau was there for her, should she need it.
‘‘I feel very strongly about Nikau House . . . getting rid of it isn’t improving services, it is a backwards step.’’
Nelson woman Tina Lane says with the help of Nikau House, she got her life back on track. File photo, posed by model.
Nikau House supporters at a protest on the Church Steps opposing the proposed closure of the community facility.