From 1 February 2021, PeerZone will be part of Mind and Body Consultants, an entity of the Emerge Aotearoa Group that has been serving communities for the past 22 years, delivering mental health and addiction peer and advocacy services.
Emerge Aotearoa CE Dr Barbara Disley says purchasing PeerZone will strengthen Mind and Body Consultants peer and youth approach, grow the peer model used across the Emerge Aotearoa Group, and provide improved access and choice for people.
“Mind and Body Consultants is honoured to be the new home for PeerZone. It is part of our commitment to He Ara Oranga. There are limited avenues for people to access peer services in New Zealand and it is important that we continue as a sector to nurture and grow these options,” she says.
PeerZone is a Wellington-based, peer-led social enterprise that offers peer support services as well as resources, toolkits, and workshops for people with lived experience and the people who work with them. It currently provides one-to-one and group-based, peer support for the Piki pilot programme, supporting rangatahi to strengthen their wellbeing in the greater Wellington area.
PeerZone was established by Mary O’Hagan and Sara McCook Weir, who both have lived experience of mental distress and of working to improve the lives of their peers. When Mary and Sara were looking for a new home for PeerZone, Mind and Body Consultants was top of mind.
Mary, in particular, has had a long-standing relationship with the organisation and says she trusted Mind and Body Consultants would take good care of PeerZone and ensure it stayed true to its values of self-determination for people with lived experience, the privileging of lived experience knowledge, and the principle of mutuality.
Mind and Body Consultants has extensive experience in providing mental health and addiction peer and advocacy services across a range of contexts including primary health care. It has been a key peer provider within the Like Minds and community education awareness contexts.
Recent initiatives that Mind and Body Consultants have been involved with include the Haven Crisis Café that provides peer support to people experiencing distress linked to substance abuse, homelessness, or mental health issues, and the 1737 helpline that offers a peer alternative on the national helpline.
“Peer services have an important role in our communities, supporting people to step outside of the ‘illness and problem culture’ into a culture of personal growth and healing,” Magdel Hammond, National Manager of Mind and Body Consultants says.
PeerZone’s Piki Programme is currently available in the Wellington region to young people who access primary health care through Tū Ora Compass Health. PeerZone workshops and resources are available nationally.