Fast Track

Mental health and addiction support worker forums

Platform Trust and Te Pou held three forums for mental health and addiction support workers in July to discuss the key questions in the Fast Track discussion paper (available to download below) and to identify strategies for further growth and development of this workforce. Watch this space for more information about the themes and next steps that emerged from the forums. 

Why the forums were held

Support workers now make up the largest group in the adult mental health and addiction workforce, with the evolution of many different support work roles across NGO and DHB services. As we continue to have a greater focus on services being based in the community, we anticipate that this workforce will require the greatest growth and development. These forums raised important questions to inform next steps to help facilitate this growth and development.

Fast Track 

The Fast Track discussion paper (available for download below) highlights some of the key issues for the further development of the support workforce – including:

  • the breadth and diversity of mental health and addiction support worker roles, including peer support roles
  • retention and recruitment challenges for employers
  • the need for an education and career pathway for support workers
  • the possibility of creating a distinct professional identity.

Nature of the support workforce

The results of the Adult mental health and addiction workforce: 2014 survey of Vote Health Funded services (Te Pou, 2015) identified that the community support workforce - including peer support was the largest part (31%) of the adult mental health and addiction workforce. Twenty-one per cent of community support workers were employed by DHB services, 72% were employed by adult NGO mental health services and a further 7% were employed by adult NGO addiction services. Because community support is the largest workforce, it has a significant role to play in implementing the changes that are outlined in current national policy documents.