By: Astrid Austin

The inquiry into mental health and addiction, chaired by Professor Ron Paterson, sat at St John’s College earlier this month. Photo / Duncan Brown

Through a social enterprise venture, students at St John’s College have been able to partner with a vital cause in the local community.

Over the past several months, nine students have spent time at Whatever It Takes (WIT) – the region’s largest peer provider of community-based mental health and addiction service.

Funds from “George”, a machine that detects flooding levels for holiday homes and farms and sends an alert to the owner’s cell phone, will go towards mental health organisation WIT to help them support mental health in Hawke’s Bay.

St John’s College principal Paul Melloy said it was an “incredibly proud moment” to “see our young men fully engaged in a project that awards no credits or personal gains, other than acting out their values, supporting social justice in the community and wanting to make a difference”.

He said, in this case, they had to overcome personal barriers of fear and a lack of understanding.

“If they can do this at the age of 15 or 16, imagine what these young men will be capable of when they are in their prime.”

Melloy also praised the students’ teacher, David Ivory.

“In Mr David Ivory, St John’s College has a revolutionary teacher who brings out the best in his pupils with a clear sense of equity and fairness. I am immensely proud of what Mr Ivory has achieved; last year in partnership with Hawke’s Bay Prison, and this year with WIT, supporting mental health in the region. And he doesn’t stop; he is already engaged in his next project.”

The Government inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction met at the college earlier this month. Chaired by Auckland University law professor Ron Paterson, they heard students and WIT clients speak about the lessons and enrichment that have occurred as a result of the unique partnership.

The inquiry is due to report back to the Government in October after it has analysed the submissions along with international research on mental health and addiction treatment.

Source: NZ Herald

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