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Charity notes rising costs adding to pressure

A registered charity helping Wairarapa families of people facing mental health challenges said it is seeing a higher volume of people under financial pressure due to the rising cost of living.

Chief executive officer of Yellow Brick Road [YBR] John Moore told the Times-Age that mental health challenges are never easy to manage if there are exacerbating stressors in people’s lives.

YBR – which is funded through contracts for services via Te Whatu Ora, grants from trusts and foundations, and donations from individuals and businesses – is heavily reliant on securing funding to extend their services and continue to support families and whānau.

“If a family is experiencing financial pressures, struggling with housing or employment issues, finding it hard to put food on the table, it does make it that much harder to look after a family member with mental illness at the same time. It just adds to the pressures,” Moore said.

Although YBR sees families and whānau as the biggest support services for people with mental health challenges in New Zealand, Moore said most of them work fulltime, are untrained, unpaid, and often emotionally stressed or burnt out due to being the “support worker.”

Moore described the national organisation as the “co-driver”, steering families towards services that might help to ensure they receive the best support possible.

“Our mental health system is designed to focus a lot on diagnosis and treatment based on a clinical view of mental illness. The reality is that many of the whānau we work with are really concerned about tangible quality of life issues and the current issue with cost of living is a classic example of this,” he said.

While Moore said mental health is like a continuum, the needs of family and Whānau can fluctuate. Therefore, YBR will always have its door open and will continue to help as much as it can.

With 14 offices dotted around the country, YBR plans to expand its footprint by providing more services.

“Our mental health system is designed to focus a lot on diagnosis and treatment based on a clinical view of mental illness,” Moore said.

“The reality is that many of the whānau we work with are really concerned about tangible quality of life issues and the current issue with cost of living is a classic example of this. By working with whānau, we are naturally taking a holistic view of wellbeing rather than a clinically focussed one and that kind of approach is helpful in making sure all factors that contribute to mental health are considered and addressed.”

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