Announcement of the new Principal Advisor (MoH): Epenesa Olo

Monday, 4 March 2019

Released by the Ministry of Health 28/02/19

Principal Advisor - Child and Youth Mental Health and Addictions

Epenesa Olo has a strong passion for and a broad background in mental health and addictions. She is a registered Clinical Psychologist and has worked in infant, child, adolescent mental health, adult mental health, and addictions.  Some examples of her work in Child, Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) include being part of building innovative pathways; a Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Programme for adolescents and their caregivers; scoping and implementing  an infant mental health service; building a liaison service for professionals working with primary aged children. She maintains a current practicing certificate and has a private practice in Auckland. Epenesa has also worked clinically in the Pacific Islands and is a visiting Health Specialist to the Cook Islands.

More recently Epenesa has developed general management skills as an Operations Manager. These include governance, managing people, finance, and strategic thinking and planning, quality and service improvement. She was Operations Manager for Takanga a Fohe, Pasifika Mental Health and Addictions Service, Waitemata DHB. It included a regional metro-Auckland addictions service and primarily served Pasifika people and their families. She also acted as Operations Manager of the Child, Youth and Family, and Maternal Mental Health portfolio and for Whitiki Maurea, Māori Mental Health and Addictions Portfolio. She enjoyed and nurtured excellent partnerships with the Service Clinical Directors that encouraged mutual support for their respective roles and responsibilities. Epenesa has led and developed high performing teams and believes in building a positive work culture that encourages collaboration, individual and team responsibility and accountability. Epenesa has demonstrated authentic engagement skills with internal and external stakeholders throughout her career and is well networked.

Finally, her own personal values of serving the community and making a difference drives her. Epenesa is keenly aware of the high demand for mental health and addictions services, the workforce issues in the specialist area and the inequities of outcome for Māori and Pasifika populations.  The recently released He Ara Oranga is an exciting time to address and provide advice for the implementation of a mental health and addictions system that can be transformed to be fit for the future. This has brought her to the Ministry.