Members of a Hawke's Bay branch of a charitable trust are seeking rural help in its programme of promoting an alternative and holistic approach to dealing with mental health.
It is a direction Havelock North woman Anna Natusch of the New Zealand Hermitage Charitable Trust said is based on a highly successful programme which has emerged out of Gothenberg in Sweden, where people with mental health issues have been placed in a caring family environment on farms and lifestyle blocks.
"Since 1987 families on Swedish farms have been bringing about miracles without the aid of psychiatric drugs or electroshock treatment concerning those with minor to serious mental health issues."
She said those who drove Friendly Healing Farms chose suitable homes not because of any specific psychiatric training, but because they represented decent, caring, loving and stable people.
Clinical psychologist Dr Ingo Lambrecht, who is a member of the trust, said the Gothenburg foundation had brought psychotherapy and family therapy together.
"I had the good fortune of witnessing their unique and healing approach when I visited them," he said.
The whole approach echoes Natusch's philosophy toward the landscape of dealing with mental health which she underlined in her a book Battle Against Rulers of Darkness which she published four years ago.
It is about love, as it was the most important ingredient when working or associating with people facing a mental health problem.
In her early years she worked at the Lake Alice Hospital in Manawatū, and was horrified at what she encountered in terms of how children there were dealt with and she took on the system — leading to a formal board of inquiry and the eventual closing of the facility.
The love and caring approach, rather than a focus on drug and electroshock one, sparked the trust's pursuit of looking to set up a Hawke's Bay, and eventually nationwide, version of the Swedish programme.
"We aim to place one client with a mental health issue in such a home who together with the family are supported by a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist/counsellor."
Initially, homes would only be asked to take minor cases until they were more proficient and gave their consent for more "difficult" cases, she said.
"Service users would be expected to be treated as one of the family — when the chickens are being fed they would help.
"If the hay needs feeding out they would go along too — being treated as one of the family is really important to their healing."
Natusch said they were also looking into the possibility of providing a Kiwi yurt — a small extra accommodation facility for those who did not have a spare room.
While the trust had some support from other charitable trusts and the NZ Lottery Grants Board, they were also seeking helpers to become part of their fundraising committee and supporters across the board.
On the Friendly Healing Homes front, Natusch said it was an "enriching experience" for all concerned.
"Opening one's home to a fellow human being who is suffering."
She said anyone who would welcome someone struggling with mental health issues into their home, or wanted to find out more about the programme, could contact her on 8776631 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.