THE Eastern Bay’s specialist youth mental health service says mental wellbeing should be front of mind as students head back to school this week.

Glenda Gillgren who leads the child and adolescent specialist mental health team, Voyagers, Te Kaumoana o Ruamano in Whakatane said despite the unsettling times most of their clients and whanau had coped well.

“While the lockdown hasn’t worked for everyone, for some families we’ve been supporting, the feedback has been that having more time to be together and do things has led to an improvement in their child’s behaviour.”

The team has been keeping in touch with clients via the phone and online using apps such as Zoom.   She said this had its pros and cons.

“By connecting online or via the phone we have noticed a drop in the number of people missing their appointments, probably because it’s convenient, they haven’t had to travel and they have more time on their hands.”

But she said face to face communication was always preferred when it came to assessing underlying issues impacting on someone’s wellbeing.

“There are signals you pick up that something is not quite right when you’re with someone that is fairly difficult to detect online or on the phone.”

The Voyagers team includes nurses, psychologists, visiting psychiatrists, social workers, an occupational therapist, a health and wellness coach plus two amazing administrators.

The team support around 175 clients covering rangatahi and maternal mental health.

Ms Gillgren said social anxiety was quite a common issue for the teenagers they would see.

“As school goes back we are expecting that to have an impact.”

“It’s something we should all be mindful of; there will be a period of adjustment as they move from the home bubble back to school some will be resilient, for others it will be a struggle.”