Health Links are not-for-profit community driven organisations funded by health providers and independent trusts.
Health Links work closely with health providers to connect health services in the Waitemata District with health consumers (patients) and distribute health information to the community and collect feedback to inform service planning.
The Waitemata district has two Health Links:
Health Link North is an independent community driven organisation committed to improving health outcomes of residents of Auckland’s North Shore and the Rodney District, including South Kaipara./p>
What are we trying to achieve?
In 2015 Health Link North employed a Youth Engagement co-ordinator.
The role involved determining some of the health and social concerns of youth in our communities including access and barriers for health services.
The Youth Engagement co-ordinator identified the following:
- Lack of knowledge and understanding of health providers and services
- Unsure how to access services
- Mental and sexual health care are the two largest areas that youth find difficult to access
- Lack of mental and sexual resource in these areas, particularly for youth in the Rodney district
- Have no idea how to access mental health services (apart from school counsellors)
- Difficulty in access to services due to referral criteria
- Reluctance to use phone services
- Difficulty in access to services due to travel/time constraints
- Social and cultural barriers also limit access to health care
- Stigma in seeking help from mental health services
What have we done?
Health Link North in collaboration with the Waitemata DHB community engagement manager, Health Promoting Schools Kaiarahi, and HealthWest Youth Development Workers initiated discussions with three schools and their students to raise awareness with youth, their whānau and community of the health services in their area.
Youth Health Expos were held at:
- Rodney College (two events)
- Mahurangi College
- Birkenhead College
Providers with health and well-being services across the Waitemata DHB region attended engaging in a range of activities including:
- Interactive activities
- Question and Answer (Q & A) sessions in a safe supportive environment
- Asking a panel questions
- Topics covered were cyber bullying, mental and sexual health
- Drama and music sessions, assisted by:
- Family Planning
- Waitemata DHB Youth Mental Health Services
- Free texting of questions to a text line available for students
Did we make a difference?
- Feedback by service providers attending the expos agreed that student’s participation and willingness to engage was really high and this made for a successful event
- The opportunity to talk one-on-one and connect with friendly health & wellbeing services was really appreciated by students
- Students also appreciated the anonymity of using texts, as this allowed them to ask difficult questions which were answered frankly by the Q & A panel
- There was increased awareness of the health services available and how to access them
- Youth had the opportunity to express their concerns, access issues, and barriers they experience in engaging with health and social services in their region
"My daughter talked about school and the Youth Health Expo at dinner - she never talks abbout school!"
Where to from here?
There has been the recent appointment of a new Waitemata DHB Youth Health Programme manager; they will undertake development of the Youth Health Programme for our community.
It is hoped that events like the Youth Health Expo will be a feature of the new Youth Health Programme.