New home base for support team

By Liz Wylie

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Outside Support Families in Mental Illness Wanganui's advisers, from left, Nancie Quigley, Dave Nicholls, Barabara Branford, Jana Fernandez, Chrissie Bretherton, Bridget Harris and Fiona Wakeling.
Outside Support Families in Mental Illness Wanganui's advisers, from left, Nancie Quigley, Dave Nicholls, Barabara Branford, Jana Fernandez, Chrissie Bretherton, Bridget Harris and Fiona Wakeling.

Supporting Families in Mental Illness Wanganui has moved to new premises at 210 Wicksteed St and the group is very happy in its new home.

The agency moved from its previous premises at the NZME radio building in Guyton St in November and manager Fiona Wakeling said some people may not know about the new location.

"We let people know we were moving of course but there may be people we haven't seen for a while or new people who want to access our service," she said.

Known as SF Wanganui, the agency provides support to families/whanau who have a family member experiencing mental health health and/or addiction issues, or dementia-related disorders.

"For our purposes, family or whanau are not necessarily people with blood connections, they can be friends, flatmates, work colleagues - anyone who plays a supporting role in the person's life."

Ms Wakeling is one of six family advisers at SF Wanganui employed under contract to the Whanganui District Health Board, and psychiatrist Jana Fernando is employed one day each week for support with complex cases.

As well as a listening ear, the team offer education about medication, the Mental Health Act and other relevant acts, referrals to health professionals and other agencies in the region including Maori mental health agencies.

There are peer support groups as well as groups for children living in the presence of mental illness and the new premises with its enclosed backyard garden provides a good space for children.

"The children have planted a vegetable garden and they will really enjoy watching the plants grow," said Ms Wakeling.

Family advisers say the service is vital to community function because those who support people affected by mental illness can struggle with their own well-being.

The service is free of charge and Ms Wakeling said the Whanganui District Health Board has a good understanding of the mental health needs of its community.

People interested in contacting SF Wanganui can call in to the new premises in Wicksteed St which is open weekdays from 8.30am until 5pm or call 06 281 3244.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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