Workshop facilitators

Our people bring diverse skills, cultures and life experiences.

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    Rhys McDonald

    Facilitator - MH101® and Addiction101

    I work as a registered drug and alcohol counsellor for a district health board, bringing with me clinical experience in working with people and families who are experiencing issues with the use of drugs and alcohol.

    In addition, I have my own lived experience of addiction and recovery which enables me to bring a personal perspective to the workshops.

    What I love most about the work is seeing people realise as the day progresses that they already have many of the skills needed to support both themselves and others experiencing mental distress.

    I think it’s a privilege to be able to share my own journey in the workshop, which I hope helps in some way to reduce stigma and discrimination.

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    Shona McNeil

    Facilitator - MH101®

    Hello. I relocated with my husband from the west of Scotland in 2011 and we now live on the beautiful Kāpiti Coast.

    My background is in theatre and community arts, and while I loved performing, I got greater satisfaction from working with diverse groups, including prisoners and isolated seniors. I saw how creativity could light a spark in the darkest soul and help mend broken hearts.

    I am now a counsellor with Skylight Trust, and also manage a wellbeing space for tāngata whai ora, so I'm fortunate to see lives change through connection and creativity.

    When people learn together magic happens so I’m looking forward to my new role as a Blueprint for Learning facilitator.

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    Synthia Dash

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I am of Samoan and European decent. I have worked in the mental health, addiction, disability and social service sectors for 20 years. I’ve had both frontline support roles working with people with disabilities, at risk youth and the elderly, and back-facing roles in workforce development, cultural competency, service quality and improvement, systemic advocacy and mental health research.

    I was motivated to become an MH101 facilitator through my passion for using my lived experience to breakdown stigma and discrimination towards mental illness and to equip ordinary New Zealanders with knowledge and tools to support their own mental health and wellbeing.

    I love empowering people to recognise, relate and respond appropriately to those with mental distress, whether it be their clients, friends or family. I believe we all have a role to help New Zealanders’ mental health flourish and to prevent suicide and self-harm in our communities.

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    Vito Nonumalo

    Facilitator - MH101®

    Talofa lava, I’m a New Zealand-born Samoan, originally from Wellington but now living in the South Island.

    My career in mental health spans 20 years, but originally come from a background in broadcasting and journalism. What draws me to work in this area is my own personal experience of depression and anxiety and what it has taught me not just about myself, but about people in general.

    I‘ve been a facilitator with the MH101 workshop programme since it started in 2009 and I love the chance to share knowledge with people from all walks of life.

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