A West Auckland health service which supports mums and mums-to-be who are struggling with their mental health, has won an award from an international learning network which focuses on improving mental health services in Australia and New Zealand.

He Kākano Ora received the Services and Programmes award at The Mental Health Services (TheMHS) Learning Network annual conference in Sydney this week [Wed 12 Oct]. TheMHS awards recognise innovation, research excellence, best practice and lived experience leadership in mental health services.

He Kākano Ora, which is a service of the WALSH Trust, has been providing residential respite and home-based support to mothers who are in their second trimester of pregnancy through until the baby turns a year old since 2015.

“This award acknowledges the hard work of a remarkable group women who bring this service to life every day.” said WALSH Trust Chief Executive Rob Warriner.

“It is further evidence that inherent in every community is the wisdom to solve its own problems.”

Also at the awards was WALSH Trust Chairperson Suzanne Sinclair ONZM. The West Auckland trust provides community-based mental health support, residential and well-being services. The awards were attended by more than 600 mental health professionals.

The judges noted that He Kākano Ora has consistently achieved excellence in innovation and best practice.

He Kākano Ora is based in Henderson and has a team of 10 permanent staff, with a mix of support workers and registered health professionals from different professional backgrounds. Since opening in July 2015, it has received 2,730 referrals, of which 1,913 women, their infants have been referred to its respite facility. It has also received 818 referrals to attend its groups and home-based support services.

He Kākano Ora’s services are funded by Te Whatu Ora – Waitematā, on behalf of the Ministry of Health.

Tū Whakaruruhau, the Auckland Wellbeing Collaborative (which partners a number of West Auckland organisations, including WALSH Trust), won TheMHS Medal for successfully guiding the implementation of a new model of primary mental health care in New Zealand.

Editor’s notes

The Mental Health Service Awards of Australia and New Zealand recognise innovation, research excellence, best practice and lived experience leadership in mental health services. They also aim to reduce stigma by acknowledging responsible media reporting of mental health issues and encourage others to promote the importance of mental health and wellbeing.

In 2022, 17 awards across thirteen categories were presented to individuals and organisations across the mental health sector, including clinicians, educators, researchers and service managers.

Read more about the awards

2022 winner