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Kites Trust


Interacting with people in mental distress

What you do as a police officer makes a difference. That is what Kites Trust in Wellington believes.

The NZ Police Mental Health Intervention Team approached Kites in 2014 wanting to review the way police interact with people in mental distress. Kites’ Tane Rangihuna and Amanda Luckman took the lead on a pilot programme of workshops to train NZ Police recruits in the right ways to respond.

“We want to make a difference to how these interactions work for people in distress, and equip police with the knowledge and tools they need for this to happen,” they say.

“We are excited to be working with the NZ Police because of the influence they have in society and the sometimes negative interactions between police and people in mental distress.”

Positive response makes work rewarding

The tenacious twosome bring unique experience to the project. 

Tane has worked in the mental health sector since 2009 primarily on Like Minds, Like Mine projects like this one. He says his strong Māori upbringing and his kids are the main two influences in his life and affect the way he looks at projects like this.

“I get a great deal of satisfaction out of  knowing we are helping to create more inclusive communities and raising awareness around the negative impacts that stigma and discrimination has,” he says.

Amanda not only draws on her lived experience of distress and recovery, but also her nine years experience in mental health as a peer support worker, service manager, consumer advisor, workplace trainer and peer supervisor.

“I find it hugely rewarding to work on anti-discrimination projects such as this,” she says. “The recruits respond so well to the workshops, and the NZ Police are so willing to work in partnership with us, that it makes the project a real pleasure to work on.”

Training model helps end discrimination

Knowing how important the power of contact is, Tane and Amanda draw on their “First Voices” team, who co-facilitate the workshops and share their lived experience of mental distress with the recruits.

There is also an existing pamphlet that summarises the training, and will be developed further as the project progresses.

Kites vision is to end discrimination towards those experiencing mental distress, so Tane and Amanda would love to see this training and partnership model transferred across many other organisations, such as the Ministry of Social Development (Work and Income) staff and healthcare professionals.

“In the meantime, we hope the success of our project will ultimately lead to improved statistics and a positive change to how police officers interact with people experiencing mental distress in the next Independent Police Complaints Authority report,” Tane and Amanda say.

This story is about one of the Like Minds, Like Mine Community Partnership Fund recipients

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