Equip is a leading mental health organisation, an extension of Windsor Park Church, providing an innovative model of care, effective support and education in the greater Auckland region.

Are you a family member of a person who experiences mental health issues? Equip would love to connect with you.

Thursday, January 10, 2019
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We are a group who have lived experience supporting a family member with a mental illness. Coffee group is held the second Thursday of each month.
Thursday, January 10, 2019
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1 in 5 NZ adults experience mental illness in any year. Would you know how to respond?
Thursday, January 10, 2019
tips for keeping Children safe from abuse, protecting children

All kids deserve a happy, safe, carefree childhood, free from any abuse that will haunt their memories on into their adult lives. With the knowledge that child abuse is a factor in later emotional and psychological problems, keeping our children safe from abuse is a top priority.

Here are some tips.

  •           • Be cautious about who is allowed access to your children. Statistically, family members and partners of the parent are more likely to harm children than strangers.

  Take care with choosing baby-sitters. Better to pay someone with training and references than to take risks with someone even slightly ‘dodgy’ or a sitter who is too young with immature impulse control.

  Stay sober and drug-free around your children so you can be alert to protect them, and keep your children away from people who are drunk or stoned.

  • Be alert for any signs that your child might have been abused: physical signs, age-inappropriate behaviour and knowledge, and emotional distress.

  • Set firm boundaries around the behaviour of other people around your children: pornography, bad language, lewd behaviour etc.

  • Establish regular opportunities where the child can debrief and talk to you about anything.

  • Take seriously anything a child might say about an adult doing something to them.

It is horrible to think our children are being abused, but it can also be horrible to think that the abuser is a family member or someone we love. That freezes some parents into inaction and the abuse continues. A real cause of life-long pain for some victims is that they did seek help but they weren’t believed or protected. Our priority has to be our child’s safety. Their life-long mental health and happiness may be at stake.  Get advice from your doctor or mental health professional to help you do the right thing.  Bring on board a trusted friend to support you. Yes: there may be terrible pain as a result of what you  have to do – family trouble, relationship break-ups and legal consequences – but realise this:

  • You did not cause this trouble, the abuser did.

  • Your loyalty to your children has to be greater than even your loyalty to your partner or family.

  • The consequences of not acting will be worse than any trouble your actions stir up.

These are hard things. Let two things be your guide: love, and doing the right thing.  Those two compass needles usually point the same way and, when they do, you can be pretty confident that your actions will result in the best outcomes. 

If you suspect your child has been abused, do get them some help. Again, your doctor can advise you. Gentle, sensitive counselling can greatly reduce the harm that abuse causes.

Finally, don’t let this blog make you depressed or sour! The world is full of lovely, safe men and women who are on side with you and your children. Yes, we need to be vigilant and wise, but your children will be far better off with interactions with other good adults.


These blogs are offered with the sincere hope that they will be beneficial to people with mental health challenges, their families and the wider public. However, a big lesson from the history of science is that anyone can be wrong! Therefore, this disclaimer: though written in good faith, the authors and publishers cannot guarantee the accuracy of this content, or its applicability to a particular situation.  Any decisions or course of action taken as a consequence of this content must be entirely the reader’s responsibility.  In no way should this content be used as a basis to contradict or ignore the advice of a medical or mental health professional.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019
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We can help our children grow up to enjoy good mental health. Yes, there is a genetic component to mental health and so if we, ourselves, have had mental health challenges, then our children may be at more risk of developing problems as well. However, there are things we can do that will improve their resilience and greatly improve their chances of happy emotional and mental well-being.

In the early years, a huge issue is attachment, which is when a child feels ‘plugged in’ to a reliable, caring, affectionate adult. Another important thing is that they are shielded from adult anger and violence. A safe, peaceful, loving home is the foundation for a life-time of well-being. Parenting courses are ideal for adding to our skill base to help this to happen.

Later on, a child’s good mental health is fertilised by

·         Friendships with peers

·         Trusting interaction with other adults

·         Fun

·         A sense of connection with family and a wider community

·         Opportunities to learn and express themselves

·         Good rest

·         Protection from, and processing of, stress and trauma.

We don’t like to think of our child’s world having stress and trauma but it is there, and one of the most stressful things that can happen is bullying. It has been linked to depression and anxiety in young people. It’s a big topic, one worth researching more fully if it is an issue, but here are few points.

·         Victims agree with the bully. They believe the put-downs and insults. Gently reassure your child and rescue their self-esteem.

·         Alternative groups help your child recover. A youth or sport group away from the school or wherever the bullying takes place is a wonderful tonic, to help a child experience themselves as something other than a ‘victim’.

·         Debrief. Provide a safe quiet space where your child can talk. Wind down the advice and wind up the listening. Nothing helps a child process their stress better than a non-judgemental adult with a sympathetic ear.

·         Enlist the school. Schools are not perfect but much better now at handling bullying.

·         Upskill your child. Child-appropriate assertiveness involves things like being able to say ‘no’, to walk away from conflict and to deflect other’s unwanted attention with humour.


Avoiding stress and managing it better are key skills in moving towards better emotional and mental health.  Those skills work amazingly well for us and, if we can pass them on, they can also be incredibly useful for our children as well. 

Monday, January 21, 2019
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 If you ever want to scare yourself, look up on the internet how mental health issues were treated in the past. Often the treatments were bizarre, verging on cruel. Frequently the only “therapy” was confinement. All over New Zealand, and most other countries, you can still see the remnants of huge rambling mental hospitals that used to be full but are now abandoned or used for other purposes. The main reason they are now empty is that modern drugs mean that far more people are able to have their symptoms treated while still living at home and in the community.

As you know, it is still a drag having mental health problems.   The good news is that most psychological and psychotic issues can now be helped with good therapies; the bad news is that the drugs are not perfect, and the process of diagnosis and prescribing the right medication is still far from perfect as well. We are all different and a drug that really helps one person might not do anything for another except give them side effects. It can be upsetting and make us wonder if we might not be better off without any treatment at all. However, we have to at least admit that things are so much better than they used to be. When medication gets tweaked and fine-tuned to suit us, our life is usually so much better than when we are trying to cope with untreated symptoms. Hang in there – that ‘tweaking and tuning’ can take a while. Here are a few tips and insights to help you get there.

1.       1.Become an expert on yourself. Diary your experiences, noting anything about your mood or behaviour that might be a bit different. Look up some of the possible side-effects that can occur with your medication and make a note if any of them occur. Discuss your findings with your doctor – your diary can be very useful.

2.       2.You might become the expert on yourself, but your doctor is still the expert on the drugs. Resist the temptation to alter your dose or try some non-prescribed drugs without talking to a medical professional.

3.       3. Don’t be afraid of annoying your doctor by asking lots of questions and requesting changes if things are not working well.  Your doctor understands the ‘tweaking and tuning’ process, and will not be insulted if you say a medication doesn’t work as well as hoped. (Sometimes, though, drugs do take a while to work well: your doctor might be quite right to ask you to be patient and persevere a bit longer).

4.       4. Treatment with drugs is only part of getting your mental health back. Counselling, life-style changes and social support can all have brilliant benefits.

5.      5. Many of the more common side effects – such as constipation, weight gain and insomnia – can be treated to make the anti-psychotic drugs more tolerable. Many side-effects also decrease as your body gets used to the drug.

6.      6. Keep an eye on your overall health – antipsychotic drugs are ‘relatively’ safe but, for some people, they can affect their cholesterol and heart and cause other problems. If in any doubt, at least call your doctor’s nurse. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019
To give you an idea of what kind of things you may be doing as a Support Worker at Equip, one of our staff has summed up a typical day.

To give you an idea of what kind of things you may be doing as a Support Worker at Equip, one of our staff has summed up a typical day.

A day in the life of a community support worker in Equip’s Packages of Care team
I arrive in the morning, make a coffee, check my e-mails and messages, then follow up on messages that I have received. I then enter any notes from the previous day that I haven’t entered, and phone or text my clients to confirm what time I am meeting with them today.

Today I am heading to Red Beach to support a Package of care client with whom I spend 5 hrs per week, which is broken into 2 visits.
• Check in with client asking how their week has been, what activities have they been doing.
• Review goals and tasks set from the last meeting.
• Do an activity that is working towards their goals. (For example, Goal: I want to learn how to food shop independently – We may go to the supermarket to learn this skill or catch a bus with the client as another step to completing their goal.)
• Do some interactive education (education, skills and strategies on how to deal with depression) and community skills modules.
• Sets tasks to do that are working towards their goals.
• Plan activity and time to meet next. (This is very important to do, as it can save you a lot of time trying to contact the person and organize a time to meet next, then negotiating what you are going to do with them!)

Next I am heading back to head office to meet with a client that is a Community Support Work Client (whom I support for about an hour a week). This client I will do much the same as the first client except keeping in mind that I have only one hour so I generally will follow a similar agenda to the previous meeting. This time though, we are going to be going through some interactive education about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with their family.

I have a lunch break, before heading to my next client that needs support with WINZ, followed by a review meeting with the treatment team.

Then I am heading back to the office to complete my admin, time sheets for the day, write notes about the meeting with clients what was achieved and the plan for the next meeting, and follow up on phone messages and e-mails.

What I love about this job is that no two days are the same!

A day in the life of a community support worker in the Older Adults Team
Working with Older Adults in Mental Health can be different in the sense that a physical disability can accompany a mental problem or bring about a mental illness. For example, if someone is suffering from a major depressive disorder, this may have been brought about because of a diagnosis with Parkinson Disease which can affect their mobility, their relationships, in fact all facets of their daily life. In addition, Dementia can cause a person to feel frightened, isolated and they can lose their will to live. Suicide rates can be high among the older adult population.

At Equip we try to help Older Adults to maintain their independence, accept and deal with their disabilities and put support services in place that are needed. Sometimes we take them out for an hour or two, help them to recreate old interests or to find new ones. It is about helping them to find value in their lives, and valuing the skills and wisdom they have to share with others.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Equip is an organisation that doesn’t only affect clients' lives, it’s a place where workers are changed too. I can’t find a better example than myself.

Equip is an organisation that doesn't only affect clients' lives, it's a place where workers are changed too. I can't find a better example than myself.

My entry to Equip was rather an interesting one. After leaving Wellington due to needing a change of scene, I struggled to find work. After two months of not finding anything, and helping with some voluntary painting, my Father encouraged me to go and chat with the people at Equip to find out about working in the social services.

I thought maybe I could help out by doing odd jobs, as all I had to my name was a nearly finished sociology degree. After going through an interview process I was offered a job! I arrived at Equip with no knowledge, no experience and nervous as heck. Equip was pretty small then, as an organisation.  We only had two rooms of the current block, one for general meetings and supervision and one for all staff to hand write notes, email, phone, eat lunch and have staff meetings.

As we have grown into something else, the specialness of the place has not changed. in the seven years I have been here, we have become more efficient and effective in the community and offer more services to those in the community. Often when something grows it loses what draws people in. This is not the case at Equip. People do not get lost at Equip, they find themselves and what they are meant to do. I see people now who have moved on to other things, working in different sectors taking the skills they learnt and utilising them in their world. I see people thrive in this sector and have continued to pursue careers in mental health.  For me, I chose to study, get qualified and was blessed with a role that challenges me to inspire, support and teach those here at Equip. Equip for me has always been a place of learning and developing character. For so many of the young people coming in, it is a hard journey of having your eyes opened to a world not many see or when they do, choose to ignore. I don’t know yet where I will head in the future but when I succeed in whatever I do, it will be due to my time at Equip.

Hope is prominent in this place. Though the workers sometimes have challenging days,  the offices are a place of safety, a place where you can be open with the person next to you. A place where someone says, “that didn’t sound good” after over hearing a difficult phone conversation, and offer a debrief. Life can be interesting sometimes, and the work we are in is definitely that. As one of the longer standing team members now I feel like the organisation has shaped a large part of who I am and I see it with other team members.

Equip as a service changes workers lives, thanks to the ethos it was founded on and those who came before me and those who are still here and the focus they installed into the bones of the organisation many years ago. May it long continue.


Current Team Leader

Wednesday, March 01, 2017
Often we are just too hard on ourselves. It is time to be kind to yourself. Find out how self compassionate you are!
Often we are just too hard on ourselves. Go to this excellent website and do the Self Compassion assessment here. Be kind to yourself today!

Thursday, February 22, 2018
Check out the latest events here! Come connect with us.
Saturday, May 09, 2015
Helping to cope with depression – there is a way through

Information on Depression
Get Self-Help information and strategies from www.depression.org.nz

Feeling Depressed?
Hear How Young Kiwis Got Through Depression. www.thelowdown.co.nz

Saturday, May 09, 2015
"Equip visits have built up my confidence again."
I look forward to my Community Support Worker (CSW)’s visits and the company. More often than not, we have had fine weather to go out and sit in the park. This has built up my confidence to get out and back into the community once more. One of the things that has given me great joy and a deep, deep feeling of peace within me is going back to church. Once I expressed this was something I would like to do again, my CSW got Carol to come and visit. Carol found a local church that holds a weekly communion service on a Wednesday. This has meant a lot to me. A bonus good cup of coffee and homemade cake afterward gives me the opportunity to get to know one or two of the other folk there. I am very grateful to Equip for this opportunity and their visits have meant so much to me.

Friday, May 08, 2015
"Kevin’s family love having him closer to them again."

When Kevin first came to Equip he didn’t really have any social contacts and this wasn’t helped by him having no phone or means of communication. Kevin’s first goal was to get a cell phone which he has now and is used to keep in contact with his family.

Over time Kevin was supported by Equip staff to get out of the house and have social contact with his family as he was very isolated living on his own and having no friends... He joined a social group which helped him have some contacts with people who had common interests to himself and it gave him somewhere to go. This led to Kevin going out to visit his friends down the road and had a few visits with his family which he really enjoyed. He said it made him feel really good spending time with family but he didn’t think they would want him to live with them.

Kevin had stated in the past that he wanted to get back into his old work as a builder but hadn’t made any steps towards this. During the visit to his family home he did some building work and discovered how much he had enjoyed doing it. It made him realize that he was capable of working again. Kevin and his support worker problem solved ways to look for and get building work. He ended up finding a job through a friend which he wasn’t needed for in the end but he was really happy about the prospect of getting work and an income.

Kevin’s suppork worker spoke on and off with Kevin’s family members and let them know how much Kevin enjoyed going to their place and spending time with them. In fact Kevin ended up spending Christmas with his famliy whereas normally he would be on his own.

Just recently, Kevin decided to move in with family and is enjoying greater connection with them and his confidence had grown to a point where he was able to make the relocation arrangements himself. Kevin’s family say they love having him closer to them again and are supporting his efforts to get permanent work.

Friday, May 08, 2015
"A lot of situations and things puzzled me."
Hi, I’m Vaoesea and I grew up in Hastings. Just before I went to College I moved with my family to West Auckland and completed my schooling there. When I finished schooling I went to University but struggled and did not cope. I also seemed to be unable to get a job, had no friends, no direction and was shy and lacking in confidence. And for some reason I was angry all the time. Something was not quite right but I didn’t know what it was. I ended up seeing a Psychiatrist and despite this was having trouble communicating with my family. I would head off for long walks in the bush and one night spent the whole night sitting under a tree in the Waitakeres.

I guess if I was to describe how I felt at the time, it was that I was angry a lot and also I started to experience a sensation of dreaming while I was awake. The things I dreamed about felt real but over time I got to realise that they weren’t. A lot of situations and things puzzled me.

This all came to a head one day when I had an argument with my mother and went to the Police to make a complaint against her. The Police got a Doctor to come and check me out. I was taken in a Police car to an inpatient mental health unit, put in isolation and strip searched. It was very degrading and frightening. And I struggled with being separated from family.

After a period of time I came out of the hospital and went back home. I became fascinated and absorbed by the war in Kuwait.

Eventually I moved into what was called a ‘therapeutic community’ in the city where I lived in a big house with a number of other people who had mental health issues. While there I got my first job in a lunch bar in Queen Street but had to leave it because it did not work out.

I left the community and followed my boyfriend up to Whangarei but unfortunately we broke up soon after and my Mother and brother had to come up and get me and I was once again admitted to an inpatient unit for a time. It was during that second stay that I got offered some therapy which I found calming and helpful.

After leaving the unit I went back to the therapeutic community and learnt how to be a reliable flatmate, budget and socialise.

Eventually, I got the chance to move into a three bedroom flat with two other people who received support from a mental health support service. This time things went better. I got a cleaning job which I seemed to manage quite well and was able to hold on to.

Things change a lot in mental health services but a change that was good for me was that the flat we were in became available for us to rent independently. We all got our names on the lease and each of us received support from Equip. This was the first time in 15 years that I felt I had some real independence. I got well enough to not need support at all.

When I heard about the Client Advisor role coming up at Equip I was encouraged by others to apply. Whilst I did not think I probably had the confidence or skills to do the role something urged me to give it a go.

I have been in that role for five years and have been stretched and learnt a lot. Because my job is on the North Shore I decided to move there and most weekends I spend with my brother at his place.

Who would have thought that the University drop out is now advising an organisation with 60 staff and 220 clients how to put the person at the centre of their services and giving that service feedback from service users as to what is working and what is not.

Who knows what else I can do – it will be exciting to find out.

Friday, May 08, 2015
"Equip gave me hope and a sense of progress when I had none"
It was hard waiting for such a long time in hospital but Equip staff really gave me and my mum hope that one day I would get out and have my own flat and a job.  They helped me work on my CV and confidence skills and while the waiting for somewhere to live took awhile, I worked on these things.  My mum was involved too and she offered me a lot of support and she and Equip worked together.  Through Equip I got to see a Dietician every week and she helped me to lose weight and get fit.

I am out of hospital now and whilst I am in supported accommodation I know that eventually I will get my own flat and a job.

Equip gave me hope and a sense of progress when I had none.


Friday, May 08, 2015