New Guide to Open Doors for Wellingtonians

13 February 2009

People with experience of mental illness will soon find a warmer welcome around Wellington, thanks to a 'how-to' guide for community groups that's a first for New Zealand.

Opening Doors - a joint initiative between Wellington City Council, Kites Trust and MASH Trust - gives simple tips on how to build good relationships with people who have experience of mental illness.  It will be distributed free to community groups in the Wellington region.

The Council's Community Recreation Advisor, Esther Bukholt, says this builds on an award-winning guide for Council staff aimed at making our activities more accessible to people who have experienced mental illness.

"Welcoming and including people who've experienced mental health issues can make a positive difference to their recovery. The guide is written in a conversational style by people with experience of mental illness. It aims to break down barriers and misunderstandings in the community and give practical information to help groups make their services more accessible.

"Our main message is - treat people with experience of mental illness just the same as you'd treat anyone else," says Esther.

Eileen McAtee from Kites Trust, a community development organisation, has experienced mental illness herself and says people with mental illnesses often have high physical health needs. 

"It's even more important that we're made to feel welcome and included in community activities because recreation has such positive benefits for both mental and physical health," says Eileen.

The guide is linked to mental health awareness training and makes the connection between knowledge and affirmative action.

You can download the guide from the Publications section of this website.

To order a copy of Opening Doors, contact Esther Bukholt at or (04) 801 4144, or Eileen McAtee at or (04) 384 3303.