BOP COVID-19 Updates

COVID LOCKDOWN: Mobile Mental Health support plus community links takes care to Eastern Bay vulnerable

A team of Eastern Bay mental health nurses and crisis workers, clad in PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)  have been going mobile delivering much needed mental health medication and support to clients.

BOPDHB’s Whakatāne based Community Adult Mental Health Team has been working throughout the lockdown supporting clients across the Eastern Bay.

That’s just one of the initiatives the BOPDHB Community Adult Mental Health Team instigated prior to the country going into lockdown, in an effort to keep those with known mental health struggles well and out of hospital.

Director of Area Mental Health Services and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Jeff Symonds says “Making sure clients had their medication and support in this lockdown was really important. With key support from Peta Ruha, Toi Oranga Ngakau, Māori Health Gains and Development we used a camper van, and where feasible took treatments and support to those in need across the Eastern Bay.  Our team dressed in PPE would, where appropriate, meet with clients outside the home on their driveway, careful not to break their bubble.”

What’s also really made a difference is having support from other health services and organisations.

“Eastern Bay Primary Health Alliance (EBPHA), Te Pou Oranga o Whakatōhea Iwi Social and Health Services, Pou Whakaaro and the police have all been working with us supporting vulnerable people across our communities.   It’s having those established connections, that has really helped us in the lockdown and we’re really thankful for the support,” says Jeff.

He says despite the unusual times, being proactive and being supported by other agencies has meant most of our clients have coped really well.

The Mental Health Team provides a 24/7 service. To minimise the potential exposure to COVID the team has had to adapt fairly quickly to a different way of working.

Team Leader Kim Hansen who also works on the Crisis Team says “In some cases we could connect with clients on the phone or online, but for others face to face was the best option.

“The team has been working split shifts and using PPE where required to ensure safety of staff and to maintain our service.”

Going forward as people start to get out and about both Jeff and Kim expect to see an increase in people seeking mental health support.

Their advice is not to rush back into anything, take your time. Reach out and ask for help if you need it. It’s okay not to feel okay.

Need to talk to someone?

Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.


0800 543 354 or (09) 522 2999

Free text 4357 (HELP)

Youthline 0800 376 633

Samaritans 0800 726 666

Online support


In a crisis?

If this is an emergency phone 111

If you feel you or someone else is at risk or harm.

BOPDHB Mental Health Crisis Team

Tauranga 0800 800 508

Whakatāne to Te Kaha 0800 774 545 

Back to all articles