The COVID-19 Vaccine and Immunisation Peer Support Fund has awarded 14 grants to 19 Peer Support organisations across Aotearoa New Zealand. Peer support workers have lived experience of mental health needs and addiction, helping them build connections with people experiencing mental health and addiction needs and their whānau.
“People with mental health and addiction needs have a higher risk of getting seriously sick from COVID-19, and it is important they are able to easily access vaccinations to protect themselves and their whānau,” says Dr Chamberlain.
“As well as focusing on increasing the uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations, the funding also enables a holistic approach to each person’s health and wellbeing needs, supporting access to other preventative services such as health checks and influenza vaccinations.
“Significant work has already been done to ensure the vaccination rollout meets the needs of these communities, including setting up vaccination centres with low sensory options, providing support for people with anxiety and needle phobia, and organising accessible transport.
“However, there is still work to be done. These grants will strengthen some of the vital community and sector-led Peer Support services that have proven effective through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The grants will be used for a range of initiatives, including setting up helplines, establishing new community outreach programmes, and providing transport to get people to vaccination clinics.
“I want to acknowledge and thank the mental health and addiction sector for their efforts supporting vaccinations for this important group,” says Dr Chamberlain.
The Ministry of Health worked with the Mental Health and Addictions sector to establish the new fund, with particular support from Platform Trust, the Equally Well collective and Te Pou.
The fund’s focus on initiatives involving Peer Support workers follows a key recommendation of He Ara Oranga: The Report of the Government Enquiry into Mental Health and Addiction. He Ara Oranga recommended strengthening the role that can be played in the sector by people with lived experience of mental health and addiction issues.
The COVID-19 Vaccine and Immunisation Peer Support Fund has awarded grants to the following organisations:
- Arataki Ministries (in conjunction with Te Tai Tokerau Tāngata Whai Ora Network)
- Auckland City Mission
- Consortium application: Whakaoranga Whānau Recovery Hub, Whakamana Tangata, Waipuna Ora and Odyssey Auckland
- Emerge (Mind and Body Consultants Ltd)
- Te Kupenga Net Trust and Manaaki Ora
- Centre 401
- Balance Aotearoa
- Whatever It Takes Trust
- Amigos Peer Support Group
- Odyssey Christchurch
- Otago Mental Health Support Trust
- Health Action Trust
- Needle Exchange Services Trust