Month: July 2016

Somebody to lean on

A support network is essential for wellness. Carry the weight of life alone, and you may struggle.

Friendly friends

by Grant J Everett

Maintaining wellness is something that is better to do as a team rather than as an individual. Friends, family, neighbours, workmates and casual acquaintances can all play a positive role in your life, and you may be surprised by how many people stick with you through tough times. Your team – generally referred to as your “support network” – can be made up of anybody you know, and each person will have different things to offer you. Note that your support people don’t need any formal training, or even know how to spell “schizophrenia” without using a dictionary. Building a support network isn’t a popularity contest! And even if you’re pretty isolated right now, that doesn’t mean things will stay that way forever. Despite how many bridges you’ve burned, there are still tens of millions of people in this country you haven’t met yet. And of course RichmondPRA is always there to support you!

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Recovery Online: SANE peer to peer forums

Jas with laptop.jpg

Above: Jas logs on and learns why Christmas isn’t so popular with some people!

If you need to talk to a peer about something, and you can’t find a peer worker, you can do the next best thing: go to a peer-to-peer internet forum. The SANE organisation runs two forums on the internet, one for people with a lived experience of mental health issues, and one for carers. Here, you can interact with people who have first hand experience of these issues!

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Peter presents: the Recovery Learning Network

by Grant J Everett

Recovery forum photo

Pictured: Some representatives from West Ryde Prestige Packing

Peter Farrugia, our Peer Workforce Program Manager, has traveled all over New South Wales and Southern Queensland to present a recovery forum to our most far-flung locations. On the day Peter brought his forum to Figtree Conference Centre at Sydney Olympic Park dozens of representatives hailing from many of our workplaces turned up to hear what he had to say. Their job was simple: attend the forum, get involved, and take back whatever they learned to their co-workers.

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What can you do if you disagree with your mental health diagnosis?

don't panic

by Grant J Everett

There are a growing number of people who believe that mental health issues are a natural and normal part of the human condition. Many academics, advocates, psychologists, average people on the street and even some doctors explain the distress, low mood and thoughts that people feel when they have a mental health issue as a consequence of things like as trauma, a difficult childhood or chronic health issues, rather than a hereditary condition or a chemical imbalance in the brain.

A mental health diagnosis is different to testing positive for a physical illness. For starters, there’s no blood test, brain scan or biopsy that can provide solid proof that a person has schizophrenia, bipolar, depression or many other conditions. Psychiatrists diagnose mental health issues based on how somebody answers a series of questions, but in addition to listening to your answers, they’ll also observe your actions and other physical signs that may indicate your thoughts, feelings and so forth.

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Freestyle swimming in red tape: Grant wants a home of his own


By Grant J Everett

A major plus to being a journalist for Panorama is that I can use my mental health recovery in my stories. After many years in the mental health system I’ve gained a wealth of experience in what (not) to do in life, and to say I’ve been around is an understatement.

I’ve been living in share house accommodation for the last three years. As good as my housemates are, I’m ready to bunny-hop onto the next step towards total independence: gaining my own home. I want a personal space that belongs to me, a place where I feel in control and that I can run in the way that I want. The major factor in this move is that I’m getting married in September, and it’s not appropriate to expect my missus to share a house with four bachelors. Can anybody say “irreconcilable differences?”

So I’m going to find a place to live. And guess what? You’ll be coming along for the ride.

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Bad parents, not bad genes?

Below: Fadzi is intrigued by Oliver James’ theory….


Book Review: “Not in Your Genes” by Oliver James, Vermilion London. Reviewed by Warren Heggarty

The main thrust of psychologist Oliver James’ latest book is that little or nothing in our psychology is inherited genetically. When we show behaviours (or mental health issues) that are similar to our parents’, it is because of our upbringing, James claims. That it is nurture not nature which makes us who we are is precisely the same theme as his previous book, charmingly entitled They F*** You Up.

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Moving ahead at St Marys

Last year, the former Enterpraise workplaces at South Penrith and St Marys were merged on the St Marys site. Manager Jay Irsaj says that the merger has gone really smoothly. This year, there is a new contract with NSW Ambulance, as well as plans to conduct a Certificate III in Horticulture. Warren Heggarty went to talk to the crew at their early morning meeting before going out on the road.

Staff and Leadership team at St Marys.jpg

From left: Anthony Wearne, Jason Barter, Jeanette Rodriguez, Jay Irsaj, Dean Sheridan, Nathan Fryer

At 7:45, the employees gathered for a safety session before their final allocation to work crews for the day. Chris read through the rules concerning the safe handling of hazardous chemicals, emphasising the need for ventilation when working with them. Jay says these safety sessions are a regular daily feature. It is no good just doing them “when you have to.” You need to go through the procedures whenever there is an opportunity so that they really sink in.

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