Work has begun on the new Child, Youth and Family outpatient facility, Kahurangi, but what some people may not know is the input youth have had in the design of the building.
Māia caught up with the NZ Mental Health youth advisor representative, Kate Enright, to discuss her journey with the design of Kahurangi.
Kate has been in her role for two and a half years and, as required, has lived experience of distress having used Mental Health Services in Dunedin and Christchurch.
“Working in this role has been rewarding. It’s helped my own recovery to see it from the other side, why things are done a certain way and the constraints on the system.
“It’s been an interesting process trying to explain what we want to the architects who would never think to design things the way we need them, such as observation mirrors that reach the floor.”
Kate’s area of focus within Te Whatu Ora is child and youth mental health, eating disorders, mothers and babies, and anxiety disorders.
The previous youth advisor contributed to the initial design phase, what rooms were needed, and where they should be, but Kate has had a significant role in advising on the interior design elements.
Now the building footprint has been locked down the Facilitates and Infrastructure User group (a team that includes project managers, clinical lead facilitators, and architects) meet once a fortnight to discuss the developed design.
“I’ve pushed for larger windows and for interview spaces to have natural light especially in the whānau room.
“I’ve also joined with others in pushing for sensory spaces, we need the waiting area to be sensory as well with different chairs, so people can sit where they feel most comfortable – a high back chair, a beanbag, an egg-shape. We don’t want it to feel like a waiting room, it’s a comfortable, safe space.
“It will be interesting joining the two services under the same roof. We will be working in an open plan office, I hope it’s going to break down a lot of those barriers and allow us to work more collaboratively
“At the moment I’m pushing for some rooms not to have whiteboards in them, so they feel less like a classroom…we’d like the rooms to feel comfortable.”
Kate explains she is constantly in the services gathering feedback.
“I go to the inpatient services once a week and introduce myself to the young people there. I let them know what I do and that I’d love them to come and chat to me.
“It takes a while to build a relationship, but it can be easier for them to talk to me because I’ve been through it and I’m closer in age to them.”
Kate says the position has allowed her to be involved in a huge variety of work, including leading training days for health professionals, contributing to national health projects, and attending symposium’s around the nation.
Kate is excited to see work starting on the community building and looks forward it to being completed.
“I’ve joined this rewarding journey with CAF and Māia, and to see this project completed, and knowing in some small way I’ve contributed to it will be quite humbling.
“It is going to be hugely beneficial in changing the way rangatahi feel when they access CAF services, it really will.”