Hikoi in aid of healthy choices

A woman walking the length of New Zealand to raise awareness for changes in treatment for mental illness is expected in Whangarei on Thursday.

Ann Chapman left Cape Reinga on December 12 and is following the Te Araroa trail the length of the country.

She has been a support worker for a mental health trust for two-and-a-half years, and has witnessed the "medical-model" approach to mental illness.

"I was initially shocked and increasingly angered and saddened by the high doses of medication given to the clients I work with," she said on her Facebook page.

Ms Chapman said research suggests that better long-term outcomes can be achieved by offering people a wider range of positive, empowering alternatives, with or without short-term or lower-dose medication as part of treatment.

Hugh Norris, director of policy and development at the Mental Health Foundation, is supportive of Ms Chapman's hikoi.

"I enthusiastically support Annie in taking this bold stand to improve the dignity and quality of life of people experiencing mental illness," he said.

Ms Chapman is looking for support from the public as she undertakes her walk, which is expected to finish at the bottom of the South Island in May.

Anyone who wants to help can do so by donating food, accommodation and other expenses, or by organising meetings in their area when Ms Chapman passes through.

You can donate a one-off payment or a small weekly automatic payment for the duration of the walk to bank account 38-9006-0205358-03 Ann Chapman-Hikoi. Email anniechapman@actrix.co.nz if you can help, and follow her progress on Facebook by searching "Hikoi for healthy choices in Mental Health".

- Northern Advocate

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