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Janice Collins has dedicated her life to supporting people with mental health and addiction challenges.

Her own personal journey shaped by her own past experiences, is a motivating factor in positively impacting the lives of tangata whiaora who are facing personal adversity and trauma. Her passion for her work has driven her to achieve a New Zealand Diploma in Health and Wellbeing (Level 5).

This qualification swiftly followed the completion of her apprenticeship in Mental Health and Addiction Support, both completed on-the-job with support from work-based learning provider Careerforce | Te Pūkenga.

Personal challenges influenced choice of career supporting others

Her personal experience of having received help and encouragement during a challenging time in her life influenced her choice to forge a career supporting others. Her commitment to upskilling has given her the knowledge and skills to better serve these people.

“It’s been an absolute journey,” says Janice “I got so much help, encouragement and support.  I’m so grateful to my mentors who walked beside me. Someone believed in me, and I attempt to emulate hope and teach values of self-respect and confidence with tangata whai ora I support.”

Janice Collins (left) with cohort colleague Kimi Cowan-Smith

Janice has worked at Comcare for over 20 years, an organisation dedicated to assisting people experiencing mental health and addiction challenges across Canterbury.

“One of the models we utilise is ‘Te Whare Tapu Wha’ a client centred model that provides wrap around support for our client’s emotional, mental, spiritual and physical health, and we then work out goals that help enhance their personal recovery.  We have teams supporting people with mental illness and addiction into housing and others supporting people into work,” says Janice.

“My role is about getting people into exercise and helping them with nutrition. I use exercise and therapeutic tools to support recovery for mental wellbeing.

“Sometimes tangata whai ora are overwhelmed with mental health symptoms, they just can’t get out of the door with anxiety, but when you’re able to support them, it’s an absolute pleasure to be walking beside to encourage them and see growth and change in individuals. It’s just incredible to see someone that is not coping, learn new strategies that are particular to their nature and start to have belief in themselves.”

Diploma and apprenticeship programmes well supported by Careerforce

Janice credits Careerforce Apprenticeship Advisor, Andy Bunn as a great source of support and encouragement throughout her apprenticeship journey with the completion of the Certificate in Health and Wellbeing, and it was Andy who suggested she consider enrolling in the diploma.

“After a break, I approached the Comcare team leaders [about the Diploma] and they were so supportive.”

The Diploma in Health and Wellbeing (Level 5) is designed to qualify advanced support workers who work closely and collaboratively to support people and whānau with complex needs. The learning and assessments are completed through Careerforce’s online learning platform, and each module is supported with a one-on-one coaching session with a dedicated assessor.  Careerforce Health and Wellbeing Assessor, Joanna Martino was assigned to Janice.

Janice described the Diploma as absolutely challenging at times. “At first, I pondered over every assessment, but then I could see how what I was doing fitted into the framework. Experiential and then academic theory are threaded through the learning, and I found I could draw off many health and wellbeing examples.

“Everything I learnt had a connection to what I had done for many years.

Janice Collins (far right) with cohort colleague Kimi Cowan-Smith (left) and Careerforce Assessor Joanna Martino

“I could pull through evidence and tie it in with policies and procedures. This is something that’s done now, and it really enhanced my practice.  I found I was confident to use models and theory   that I wouldn’t have used before.”

Janice was really appreciative of the support from her assessor Joanna Martino. “Having Joanna there was a great encouragement. She made the time to meet with me and another learner locally and she does that extremely well.

“I was also very lucky with Comcare as they allowed me to take four hours a week off for study and I utilised every moment.  I also did extra when I could at the weekends.

Janice recommends the diploma to others

“It’s just a thrill to complete it. I would absolutely recommend it to others, and definitely for people just like myself and with my own lived experience.

“I would highly recommend this type of study for other colleagues who are presently working in the field of mental health and addiction. The Diploma will allow your practice to enhance in understanding models and theories, relating to your role that are in align with policies and procedures to your particular organisation.  It gives you confidence using strategies for engagement, wellbeing support plans and critical evaluation for best practice while supporting tangata whaiora in your chosen career path. – Manuia lava fa’afetai.”

More information

For more information about the Diploma in Health and Wellbeing (Level 5), or workplace-based apprenticeships, contact Careerforce, a business division of Te Pūkenga.