Peer Workers Help Promote Mental Health Awareness
Martin Place, Sydney was the venue for ‘Check up from the Neck up,’ an opportunity for people passing in the street to learn about mental health. The event was put on by the NSW Mental Health Commission and involved Flourish Australia Peer Workers from Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle.
Peer Worker Patricia told us ‘We were handing out information cards and mints, hundreds of them all up, as well as inviting people to stop for a while and have a check-up from the neck up. There were three shifts of twelve Peer Workers. Also, there were other professionals set up there who were conducting the actual check-ups and of course, the Commissioner John Feneley was there and so was Deputy Commissioner, our very own Fay Jackson. There were three shifts all together from 7am to 7pm.’
It was a chance to interact more or less randomly with people passing in the street to pass on the message of the importance of mental health. Some of the encounters were interesting. Panorama hears that one passer-by asked whether the mints had ‘something in them.’ Another wondered if Scientology was behind the show (no, actually they weren’t). We’re not sure if they were joking or not.
Patricia met a man who had been homeless at times. ‘I asked him about whether he had anyone to support him and whether he needed assistance with accommodation. He said that he did in fact have a support network and was not after help with accommodation at the time. He even shared a smile.’ She said.
When he found out Patricia was from Flourish Australia, formerly RichmondPRA, he asked her about what sort of programs were happening at Buckingham House.
Although they were in Sydney, people came from all over. Patricia also spoke to a man from Newcastle – where Flourish Australia has a big service centre at 627 Hunter Street. ‘It was great just to be able to pass information onto people’ she said.