• The Hearts & Minds team: Front row - Rose Yumul, Sylvie Tierney, Julie Walker, Amberlee Wharton, Carol Ryan, Nichola Williams; Back Row - Sam Robertson, Sally Clarkson, Connor Hennebry, Xiaoying Zhang, Brigid Furness.

Compassion, understanding and hope

This month marks a change of name for an entity well known on the Shore as Raeburn House. Channel Magazine spoke to Julie (Jules) Walker, Wellbeing and Resilience Programme Manager, about the name shift from Raeburn House to Hearts & Minds NZ Inc and about the work the organisation undertakes.

Hearts & Minds focuses on mild to moderate mental health concerns, and is a registered charity funded primarily by the Waitemata District Health Board. A year ago, it moved from near North Shore Hospital to a council building behind Northcote Library, and though it still provides some services at the ‘old house’, support groups are also now run in Orewa, Northcote, and Waitakere.

“The North Shore community has been very supportive of our work over the years and recently demand for our services has grown. However, we had received consistent feedback that our name may be a barrier preventing some people from accessing the services we offer,” says Jules. 

“While the name Raeburn House has credibility in the community, it lacked any indication of the type of work we do, and many people who could benefit from our services may not have realised it was an option as they had no idea what ‘Raeburn House’ meant. We also noticed that migrant populations were contacting us asking if we provided housing. We are passionate about providing wellbeing support in our communities and wanted our name to reflect our core work.”

Hearts & Minds held a launch party in late October to celebrate the name change and launch its latest Support Services Directory. “For the next few months,” says Jules, “we will use the phrasing ‘Hearts & Minds – formerly known as Raeburn House’ and ensure that the message about our new name is clearly articulated to the community and wider stakeholders.” 

Hearts & Minds accepts self-referrals as well as referrals from agencies and health professionals. “We strongly believe that everyone deserves access to support regardless of whether they have been referred or choose to seek support of their own volition. One of the key drivers of our organisation is to remove any barriers that may prevent people seeking support when they need it.” While anyone can attend the Hearts & Minds wellbeing groups (such as Overcoming Anxiety, or Moving Past Depression), these are totally free with a referral from a health professional – a GP, counsellor, psychologist or other health or mental health professional.

Jules says that the real benefit of Hearts & Minds is that it provides mental wellbeing support at a community level, and that individuals have the ability to address their psychosocial concerns without having to go through complicated processes or needing to access more intensive, expensive options. “Our services provide high quality professional support without the cost and the stigma associated with other services,” she says. “All our facilitators are well qualified in mental health, and our groups offer individuals the opportunity to develop skills to move them forward, and to prevent their mental health from slipping back. They also are a way for individuals to connect into their community and meet others who are going through similar issues. We offer an ongoing open group which people can come to fortnightly for a cuppa and friendship, under the guidance of a qualified health professional.”

Hearts & Minds believes that if people have access to information, advice and support at a local level, issues confronting individuals or families can be addressed and resolved before they escalate into crisis situations, thereby decreasing the rates of family violence, addictions, mental illness and suicide while simultaneously improving social cohesion and the overall health and wellbeing of diverse populations across the region.   

Hearts & Minds’ team of qualified professionals includes psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors from a range of cultural backgrounds. They provide warm, welcoming, judgement-free wellbeing support to people of every socio-economic and cultural background. “Ours is a strengths-based organisation that understands that when 'life happens’ people need compassion, understanding and hope,” says Jules. “We believe in the potential of all people and in the capacity for growth and positive change. Our vibrant office space and team of friendly professionals encourages community connectivity and affirms their decision to seek support.”

Hearts & Minds (formerly known as Raeburn House), Norman King Community Hub, 65 Pearn Crescent, Northcote  09 441 8989