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Escaping the bubble and regaining independence

16 May 2023
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Problems began for 9-year-old Max* following COVID-19 lockdown, when ‘bubbles’ became the only way to safely connect with others. He was separated from all his friends at school and really struggled to cope - being unable to play with them or enjoy their usual bike rides together.

Max became troubled by disagreements happening with those outside of his bubble and would ask to be constantly updated on whether things were alright. He was catastrophising every situation. If he said or did the wrong thing, he would replay his worries repeatedly in his head. This anxiety would keep him awake all hours of the night, so he was losing valuable sleep. 

His anxieties escalated to a point where his parents would have to convince him to leave the house. Max was distraught and not in a positive head space.

His parents were not sure what action to take next, but Max’s school referred him to Presbyterian Support’s Mana Ake Service where kaimahi Kelly* became involved. 

Kelly provided various tools and strategies to help manage Max’s worries, including using a workbook - Starving the Anxiety Gremlin, which he particularly enjoyed completing together with his parents. She provided mindfulness activities, such as grounding techniques, and worked with Max to develop his confidence and independence, using growth mindset and strength-based activities. 

Thanks to Kelly’s support, Max’s parents and teacher reported huge improvements in his ability to recognise and verbalise his emotions. They also said he had been using the tools he had learnt to manage his anxiety in situations where he would normally become distressed. 

Max also noticed the difference saying, “My class was doing a performance and I told myself, I can do this!” Something he would have certainly struggled with beforehand.

His Mum’s feedback has been extremely positive – she now tells all the other parents at Max’s school about the Mana Ake Service and sings its praises! 

When Max first started working with Kelly, he was very shy and would hardly say three words. Now, Kelly says, “Max is a whole different child. He has made such fantastic progress and finally has his independence back.”

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Mana Ake Service

Presbyterian Support partners with Mana Ake to provide mental health and wellbeing support to children in primary school years 1-8 across Canterbury.

Mana Ake kaimahi include psychologists, social workers, and counsellors who help support schools and whānau when children are experiencing issues such as:

  • Relationships and bullying
  • Managing emotions
  • Grief and loss
  • Parental separation

For more information on the service, visit the Mana Ake website.

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