Fast Track

Fast Track A discussion paper: challenges and opportunities for the mental health and addiction community support workforce published by Platform Trust and Te Pou in 2017 (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.

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. Themes from these forums are outlined in a national summary, as well as a summary from the Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland forums.

At the Auckland forum some of the attendees shared their stories about their role as a support worker on some short videos.

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.

A national support work summit Māhuri Tōtara will be held in Wellington on Monday 10 December 2018 to further progress the issues outlined in Fast Track and through the July forums.

    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.

    In 2018 a further NGO workforce survey was undertaken with results due to be published later in the year which will provide updated results on the size and composition of the mental health and addiction support workforce.