The Eastern Bay’s specialist mental health service for rangatahi (youth) says mental wellbeing should be front of mind as students head back to school this week.
Glenda Gillgren who leads the Child and Adolescent (0-18 years)Specialist Mental Health Team, Voyagers, Te Kaumoana o Ruamano in Whakatāne says despite the unsettling times most of their clients and whānau have coped well.
“While the lockdown hasn’t worked for everyone, for some families we’ve been supporting, the feedback has been that having more time to be together and do things has led to an improvement in their child’s behaviour.”
The team has been keeping in touch with clients via the phone and online using apps such as Zoom.   Glenda says this has had its pros and cons.
“By connecting online or via the phone we have noticed a drop in the number of people missing their appointments, probably because it’s convenient, they haven’t had to travel and they have more time on their hands.”
But she says face to face communication is always preferred when it comes to assessing underlying issues impacting on someone’s wellbeing.
“There are signals you pick up that something is not quite right when you’re with someone that is fairly difficult to detect online or on the phone.”
Currently the Voyagers Team includes nurses, psychologists, visiting psychiatrists, social workers, an occupational therapist, a health and wellness coach plus two amazing administrators. The team is supporting around 175 clients covering rangatahi and maternal mental health.
Glenda says, “Social anxiety is quite a common issue for the teenagers we see and as school goes back we are expecting that to have an impact.”
“It’s something we should all be mindful of; there will be a period of adjustment as they move from the home bubble back to school some will be resilient, for others it will be a struggle.”
Support is available. “We are back to business as usual as Level 2 has kicked in. We will be seeing clients face to face with precautions in place but also being mindful of some clients that may want to continue to utilise Zoom at times.  You can contact us on 0800 486 947.”

Pictured above: The Voyagers, Te Kaumoana o Ruamano Team.

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