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Health Improvement Practitioners hit the road with new promotional campaign

Tuesday 17 January 2023

Health Improvement Practitioners hit the road with new promotional campaign

Making more people aware there is free mental health and well-being support available in many general practices, is the aim of new promotional campaign in Invercargill.

WellSouth’s Access and Choice (Tōku Oranga) programme, is a primary mental health and well-being service based in general practices in the Southern region, part of a national initiative to make it faster and easier to access care for mild mental health concerns – including stress and sleep issues, alcohol and drug use, or mild anxiety and depression.

To further promote the service, which has already helped thousands across Otago and Southland, Access and Choice (Tōku Oranga) team are branching out and distributing posters across the community – from supermarkets to hairdressers, dairies to sports centres.


WellSouth Health Improvement Practitioner Courtney McLennan hangs Access and Choice poster at local hairdresser.

Genevieve Obbeek, Health Improvement Practitioner Lead Access and Choice, says the service is well-promoted in medical centres and most people are accessing the service after seeing their GP or nurse. This promotion is meant to further raise the profile of the service and remove any barriers – reminding people that appointments can be available without a referral.

“We are hoping to make this free service even more accessible to patients enrolled at participating practices by raising awareness within the wider community that we are here and looking forward to meeting anyone who would like support for their mental health and wellbeing.”

Access and Choice (Tōku Oranga) is not counselling but rather help to manage your health, by talking over issues, working through blocks, and developing goals. Patients leave an appointment with a plan to make change.

Teams are comprised of Health Improvement Practitioners, Health Coaches and Community Support Workers who can provide different levels and kinds of support – Access and Choice brochure.

The programme started in Otago and Southland in August 2020 with six health improvement practitioners and has grown to more than 70 staff working in 35 general practices as well as Number 10 Invercargill Youth.

The support provided by the programme benefits patients, while also reducing pressure on general practice teams and other health services.

The Access and Choice (Tōku Oranga) team are making a massive impact on communities in Southern, they are often available to be seen the same day the patient is referred, and the appointments are free for enrolled patients.

“We support anyone enrolled at a participating practice with anything that’s keeping them stuck and help to make positive steps forward to live a meaningful life. We are designed to be different and in doing so we can better support people as soon as they ask for help,” says Courtney McLennan, Health Improvement Practitioner.

“We are aiming to normalise seeking support for any area of life and health and have hope our communities will have access to support much sooner.”

If a patient requires further support beyond the appointment, they can be seen again and referred on to another service where appropriate.

The Access and Choice (Tōku Oranga) programme is supported by WellSouth Primary Health Network alongside, Active Southland, Corstophine Baptist Community Trust, Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora, Pact, Nga Kete Matauranga Pounamu, Sport Otago, Te Hau o Te Ora, Partnered Primary Care Services.

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