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Mental health worker Tracey Currie says self-reflection is a “powerful tool” support workers can use to achieve better outcomes for their clients.

Tracey works as a Coordinator with PACT’s Balclutha Link Centre in South Otago, which caters for around 70 people with disability and mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder as well as drug and alcohol addictions.

She is one of almost 100 trainees across New Zealand who are learning about self-reflection as part of the New Zealand Apprenticeship in Mental Health and Addiction Support, a workplace-based apprenticeship programme developed and supported by Industry Training Organisation (ITO), Careerforce.

Tracey Currie says self reflection is an important tool for support workers.

“Self-reflection is a powerful tool to use in everyday life, not just in your work but for life in general,” Tracey says. “It helps you empathise better with others and opens your mind to everything else around you, to be able to analyse often-challenging situations so you know where to improve next time.”

“For example, when I apply this to my work in mental health and addiction support, sometimes people often snap for what you may think is no reason. But on reflection, you realise your words, tone and body language are so powerful and it could be one sentence you said that has triggered them.”

“So, through training, we understand better the need to use a calm tone, be empathetic, and make people aware that you are listening to them.”

Careerforce Manager for Apprenticeship and Vocational Pathways, Penny Rogers, says the training helps give staff the extra confidence to do their jobs to the best of their ability, resulting in better outcomes for New Zealand.

“As the presentation of clients with mental health issues is becoming increasingly complex, the training has a strong focus on tailoring support for individual clients, since we know there is no one-size-fits all approach to mental health,” Penny says.

Tracey says mental health and addiction support workers need a wide range of knowledge and skills so they can tailor their approach to best suit each person they are working with.

“Learning and knowledge is key to managing such a diverse range of diagnoses. But at the end of the day, if you have empathy and a caring heart and if you want to look out for our people and advocate for them, that’s all the skill you need.”




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Careerforce is the Industry Training Organisation (ITO) for the health, mental health, youth work, disability, social services and cleaning sectors. We are the Government appointed body that sets skill standards, develops and facilitates achievement of NZQA qualifications across all our sectors. For more information please see: