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Come and make a difference

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Your story will change lives

If you have experienced mental health or addiction challenges – or those of your whānau – you can make a real difference in the lives of others. Because what you’ve lived, you understand.

Your journey will have helped you get to know yourself. You will have built courage as you faced your challenges. You’ve discovered how to care for yourself. And learned how to connect with others.

Now it’s time to come and awhi others on their journeys. Show them they are not alone. Provide them with hope that change is possible. Walk alongside them – while they find their own wisdom and strengths. Helping them to live the life they want.

Your work can help change lives.

Career Paths

Mental health and addictions mahi can take different paths. Regardless of the track you head down, this work will make use of the many skills you have built through your challenges. Cultural knowledge and ability, and an understanding of Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi) is also really valuable.

Find out which career pathway is right for you below.

Peer support

As a peer support worker, you will use your experiences of recovery to support others on the journey. You will share how to live in recovery, drawing on your own story as you walk alongside people with mental health and addiction challenges. Your job is to believe in the people you work with – to have faith they can recover. You will hold, and inspire hope.

Support worker

As a support worker, you will help people recovering from mental health and addiction challenges by providing emotional and practical support. Your guidance will develop independence, hope, and resilience in those you work alongside. Because you assist your clients and their whānau to reach their goals, this job can feel really rewarding!

Support workers are based in a range of health and community settings, and often collaborate with other professionals like social workers, and health practitioners.

Health professional

Professionals employed by mental health and addiction services include nurses, social workers, addiction practitioners, occupational therapists, psychologists, doctors, and psychiatrists. As a registered health professional, you will work in partnership with your clients to improve their mental and physical health. Together with your client, you will identify their needs, develop a plan, and provide treatment services.

Training &

Studying can help you develop skill and confidence working with people with mental health and addiction challenges. The career path you want to head towards will determine the level of training and qualifications you need. Some training programmes are offered for free, and sometimes an employer will support you to study as you work. Or you could apply for a scholarship to help fund your studies.

How to become a peer support worker

A peer support role may allow you to study on the job. But you can improve your chances of landing a job, and prepare yourself for peer support work by:

Once you are in a peer support role, many workplaces will help you study towards qualifications. These may include:

How to become a support worker

Qualifications are an important part of becoming an effective support worker. You can study before applying for a support worker role, or find a workplace who will assist you to study as you work.

The NZ Certificate in Health and Wellbeing (Social and Community Services, Level 4) with a focus on Mental Health and Addiction Support is also linked to higher wages. You can enrol at one of the following South Auckland-based education providers.

How to become a health professional

Health professionals are highly skilled. You will obtain the qualifications and experience needed to become clinically registered. This ensures you are offering best practice treatment which is safe and effective. The most common health professions in mental health and addiction services are:

Addiction practitioners

You can find information on becoming an addiction practitioner on the Dapaanz website. Dapaanz-approved applied addiction qualifications are offered by a number of training providers.


You can become a nurse by completing a Bachelor of Nursing at the Manukau Institute of Technology. Find more information on Nursing on the Nursing Council of New Zealand website.

Occupational therapists

You can become an occupational therapist by completing a Bachelor of Health Science (Occupational Therapy) through Auckland University of Technology. Find more information on occupational therapy on the Occupational Therapy Board of New Zealand (OTBNZ) website.

Social workers

You can become a social worker by completing a Bachelor of Social Work through the Open Polytech, Massey University, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, or the Manukau Institute of Technology. Find more information on social work on the Social Workers Registration Board website.

Funding and scholarships

If the qualifications you need aren’t provided free of charge or funded by your employer, try applying for one of the scholarships below.

Find a job

Ready to find mahi which values your story, and allows you to make a real difference in the lives of others? He rawe! There are heaps of great opportunities waiting for you. Let’s get the next phase of your journey started!

It’s helpful if you have a full New Zealand driver’s license, and can use Microsoft applications like Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Excel. Getting experience through volunteering or doing casual work in social and health services can also be helpful. But don’t let these things hold you back. If you are willing to learn, and are resilient, empathetic, honest, committed, and passionate, there is likely to be a place for you!

The best places to look for jobs in mental health and addiction services for South Auckland are:

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