This year Werry Workforce Whāraurau participated in the organisation of the IIMHL Child and Youth Match, and the facilitation of a workshop in the network meeting of the 2018 IIMHL Leadership Exchange. Bronwyn Dunnachie, Sue Dashfield and Janet Peters reflect on their learnings.

IIMHL Child and Youth Match participants.


The match: Children and Youth - Innovations across countries

In February 2018, Dr Sophia Ebhard (Psychiatrist and Head of the regional child and youth services in Sweden) and her team agreed to host the Child and Youth match with support from Werry Workforce. The match was co-hosted in late May in the beautiful city of Malmo. Examples of site visits and discussion included:

  • Primary health and school-based mental health.
  • PTSD and refugee and migrant service delivery.
  • Children of parents with mental illness/and/or addiction.
  • The Choice and Partnership Approach.


Janet: I was very moved by the presentation on “PTSD in Refugees and Migrants” by Marie-Louise Lundberg. There have many migrant and refugee families and unaccompanied children arrive in Malmo in recent years (eg 163,000 arrived in 2015). Marie-Louise outlined intervention options.

Bronwyn: The opportunity to share the experiences of workforce and service development amongst a group of international peers is a privilege and highlights the similarities experienced by the infant, child and youth mental health and alcohol and other drug sectors across countries. The match provided an excellent opportunity to witness how countries are able to support populations to reduce the effects of the adversity. The Swedish people are experts in this regard.

Sue: This match demonstrated that participating countries have more similarities than differences. The sharing of innovations and resources is mutually beneficial, as is the sharing of learnings about struggles or what didn’t work as well as expected. The day at the First Line (primary) centre was a highlight for me. I have shared this model numerous times since my return.

The Stockholm Network Meeting Workshop

Stronger Children and Families, Stronger Communities for Tomorrow: Supporting Families Experiencing a Range of Adversities

The Stockholm workshop was facilitated by Sue and Bronwyn in collaboration with Dr Michael Smith: Associate Medical Director, Mental Health & Addictions, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde; Scotland. 30 participants representing 9 countries attended.

Sue and Bronwyn provided:

  • An overview of the societal issues impacting on child health and wellbeing; and service delivery in New Zealand (Sue).
  • The implementation of the ‘Supporting Parents Healthy Children Guideline’ which seeks to enhance child and whānau-centred practice within all mental health and addiction services in New Zealand (Bronwyn). 

Michael’s presentation focused on the lifetime impact of ACEs. He covered some of the positive policy environment changes in Scotland including:

  • Minimum prices for alcohol.
  • Introduction of the ‘Baby Box’, an initiative supporting all new parents in Scotland by providing resources.
  • An increase in the age of criminality for children from 8 – 12 years, and the intended social impacts of this legislation.

Key messages from the workshop:

Supporting Parents Healthy Children

  • Practice change needs to include a focus on stigmatising language; for example, re-languaging aspects of service delivery such as ‘referrals’ to ‘making introductions’ and providing ‘support’ rather than treatment.
  • When new initiatives lead to practice change, workers need to be adequately resourced to meet expectations raised in the process.
  • The drive for services to become more parent and family-focused; especially adult mental health and addiction services is common in all of the represented countries. Services must be values-based and take a systemic approach in their work.
  •  Internationally, a significant cultural shift in service delivery is required to achieve better outcomes for children who have parents who experience mental health and/or addiction concerns.


  • Having one reliable adult in a child’s life provides protection and supports resilience.
  • ACEs are an important consideration across countries in the development of policy and as a driver for the focus on social change.
  • Potential interventions such as proven mentoring programmes for young people support resilience.
  • Enhancing the capability of individuals, families, communities and services and systems increases resilience and ameliorates the impact of ACEs.

We wish to thank all of the IIMHL community and the Ministry of Health for continuing to endorse this fabulous initiative.