Mental health facility faces crisis

00:58, Aug 05 2014

A Golden Bay facility that treats people living with chronic suicidal thoughts and emotional distress may be closed within months if funding cannot be secured.

Te Whare Mahana is a mental health non-governmental organisation in Takaka.

Its seven-bed facility has been providing residential treatment to people with borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems since 2000.

Patients are referred through the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board and the ACC sensitive claims unit.

General manager Patrick Steer said referrals had been dwindling locally as more patients were successfully treated, resulting in a reduction in funding. He said opening up the service to patients from outside the region would be one way to keep it going, but there was no current funding framework to allow this.

"This service is unique in New Zealand, nobody else provides it, and it is at risk of closure due to the lack of nationwide funding."


Case studies he provided showed that the service saved the health system money due to patients spending less time in hospitals - one case showed a reduction of $285,000 in the first 12 months following treatment.

A board of trustees will decide next month whether they will shut down the residential facility's treatment programme.

Nelson woman Aleisha King, 26, has been battling overwhelming and extreme emotions caused by her borderline personality disorder since childhood.

She said she made her first suicide attempt at 11, and describes the last 13 years of her life as "in and out of the mental health system", unable to hold down a job or complete a study programme.

"My emotions have ruled my life. No medication has been able to help with this."

Now two months into her second stay at Te Whare Mahana, King credits the programme with saving her life.

"What is a life worth?" she asked. "This service has saved so many lives, including my own. I know it is expensive to run but this is the kind of intensive support people like me desperately need to be in active recovery."

She said Te Whare Mahana had been the only service that had been able to teach and support her as she learned how to manage her emotions. It allowed her to have a life that she now believed was worth living.

King said she was now less dependent on taxpayer-funded resources as she had the tools to function in society, and her family had also seen improvements in their life following her recovery. She called for secure funding from the Ministry of Health to protect the facility, and said people in the mental health system were often overlooked.

The Nelson Mail