Nelson community protests DHB's plans to disestablish mental health facility

Plans to disestablish a long-running mental health facility have sparked fierce opposition and protest in Nelson.

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Nikau House has been part of the community for 30 years. Source: 1 NEWS

Nikau House has been a part of the community for 30 years, but health officials say the support it offers can be found elsewhere.

Daniel Timms told 1 NEWS he “probably wouldn't have managed if it wasn't for Nikau House, after being in the ward, in the psychiatric ward”.

Around 220 people are registered with Nikau House services, with approximately 60 people regularly connecting with Nikau House and the programmes offered.

The publicly-funded facility focuses on recovery and supporting adults experiencing enduring mental illness.

It’s a place where people can drop in have a meal, be able to see a nurse, occupational therapist or support worker and grow in confidence and independence.

Mr Timms says “you build friendships and people respect you, you don't get bullied here”.

But now Nelson Marlborough Health says its doubling up with other agencies offering similar support.

Mental Heath, Addictions and Disability Support Services General Manager Jane Kinsey says it’s not about cutting services.

"We still will be there to ensure that really strong wraparound services are there for people, but we also know that health can't do everything on our own”.

She says people are having difficulty finding their way around multiple services and that “it’s not always clear how those services all work to the one person's plan”.

But the New Zealand Association of Counsellors is urging DHBs to tread carefully with change.

President Christine MacFarlane says she hopes the organisations will follow what the Government inquiry into mental health, He Ara Oranga, has said.

“To go back to the community, go back to the public and talk about what their needs are before imposing services or taking them away”.

She says easy access in communities is the best way “and we know that communities supporting each other is what makes a difference”.

Nelson Marlborough Health is seeking feedback on the changes and is welcoming the response so far and is considering the way the space could be kept, while redeploying services and staff.

It's extended the deadline for responses until July 3.