Tracy Boon was never meant to be here. After avoiding mental health placements throughout her Occupational Therapy training, she planned to spend a year working in mental health before heading on her OE. That was in 2002.
"I didn't think mental health would be an area I would feel comfortable with or connect with, but it's been nearly 20 years and I'm still here. It's just such a privilege to work alongside people who experience mental health difficulties and to be part of their journey."
Tracy Boon is an Allied Health Consultant working in the Child, Adolescent and Family (CAF) Service at the Canterbury District Health Board. As well her clinical work, she provides a leadership voice for around 70 allied health professionals working in the service such as social workers, psychologists, occupational therapists, dietitians, and speech-language specialists.
"There's a whole lot more to our outpatient mental health service than what you might expect. We have significantly more therapy-based approaches than you might see in other areas of mental health and as a result, we have a huge variety of skills within our team."
And those skills are desperately needed by our young people.
"The demand just keeps increasing and there's a real shift to the more severe end of the spectrum – children and young people who are just finding life incredibly challenging and are struggling to find a way out of that.
"Our Clinicians used to have caseloads with one or two young people with complex needs – now it's almost every young person we see. These are children and young people who need a real wrap-around, team approach in terms of wellness, safety, and risk."