18 October 2013 • Media Releases

Nurses awarded a mental health and addiction credential in primary care


On 11October 2013, Manaia Health PHO, along with Te Ao Māramatanga New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses, celebrated the success of eight primary health care nurses who had been on a credentialing pathway for the previous six months. Credentialing assists PHOs to build their capacity and capability to respond to, and meet the mental health and addiction needs of people in their communities. Congratulations to Manaia Health PHO for your innovation and your commitment to improving the health of your community.

Te Ao Māramatanga New Zealand College of Mental Health Nurses (known as the „College‟), supported by Health Workforce New Zealand (HWNZ), developed a credentialing framework for PHOs to consider in 2011. After stakeholder consultation and communication amongst the sector, Manaia Health PHO was the first organisation to consider a group approach to credentialing. Associate Director of Nursing, Mary Carthew, along with Primary Mental Health Nurse, John Hartigan, advocated for the need to support nurses to meet the mental health and addiction needs of people, in a primary health care setting. They soon set up a steering group comprising of key stakeholders in their community. Under the guidance of the Steering Group a six day training programme was developed and delivered over six months, with key contributors from both the primary and secondary sector.

Credentialed nurses from Northland expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to participate in these training days. The nurses describe an improved level of confidence in caring for people in their community – and are quick to highlight that mental health should not be seen as a separate part of health, and applies to all people attending their services. As one nurse describes “we have had growth in knowledge and emotional intelligence … listening and being mindful of what is truly important”. Another nurse highlights the true holistic approach to her nursing care stating “Now we are nursing the way we were meant to”. The nurses reported an enhanced level of confidence to screen, assess, provide brief intervention and refer people experiencing mental health and addiction issues. Group supervision was also an important component of the training, contributing to the success of this programme.

Further outcomes and success factors included strengthened relationships between Primary and Secondary services at both organisational and practice level, multi-layered support from the Chief Executive, management team, nursing leaders and key personnel.

The College applauds the vision and leadership in Manaia Health PHO, and wishes to thank all people who contributed to the success of this innovation, and made it happen! Thank you Manaia Health Chief Executive (Chris Farrelly), Northland DHB staff (particularly the North Community MH&A Team led by Maurein Betts), nursing leaders (Margareth Broodkoorn, Mary Carthew, Jane Simperingham and Hemaima Reihana-Tait), primary mental health nurse, John Hartigan, Clinical Supervisors Bart Van Gaalen and Henriette deVries and Health Workforce New Zealand, for supporting the pilot project.

Finally, to the eight successful Primary Health Care Nurses – congratulations! You took on the challenge, did the learning, provided the evidence on how you have taken the theoretical knowledge and integrated it into your day- to- day practice to gain a Mental Health and Addiction Credential in Primary Health Care. You lead the way for other nurses to follow!