A review of a primary mental health service 10 years on


  • Sarah Taylor




The past 10 years have seen a shift in mental health care in Aotearoa New Zealand towards early intervention and treatment at a primary care level providing a range of levels of mental health interventions in a variety of settings. Previously specialist mental health care had been the responsibility of community mental health teams and secondary service inpatient care which provided care for people with severe mental illness (3% of the population). 

In this article, I look at the move towards the provision of primary mental health care. I describe and review the Mental Health Brief Intervention Service in South Canterbury, one of the earliest primary mental health services initiated by the South Canterbury District Health Board, which started in 2005. I present research fi from my Master’s thesis Mental Health Brief Intervention – does it work? An evaluation of practice, and discuss how the Mental Health Brief Intervention Service has made a positive change for general practitioners, the client, the interface with other services including secondary mental health services and service delivery in general. Forms of consumer feedback are discussed along with the changes in the service over the last 10 years. It is written by myself, a social worker, who played an integral part in initiating and establishing the service and continues to have an active role as a clinician within the Mental Health Brief Intervention Service. This article is written to provide social workers with an overview of the establishment of the Mental Health Brief Intervention Service and the impact on service delivery. The role of the social worker is discussed as is the role of other health professionals within the team. 

Author Biography

Sarah Taylor

Sarah Taylor is a social worker and a primary mental health clinician working with the South Canterbury Mental Health Brief Intervention Service for the past 10 years. Her thesis research, titled Mental Health Brief Intervention – does it work?, was completed in 2009 for a Master of Social Welfare at Otago University. 


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How to Cite

Taylor, S. (2015). A review of a primary mental health service 10 years on. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 27(3), 78–85. https://doi.org/10.11157/anzswj-vol27iss3id9