Month: December 2017

Emma goes back to work

Emma at Marrickville brightened.jpgAbove: Emma was reunited with workmates she had known for years when she returned to Marrickville.

After a five year break, Emma – who lives in Flourish Australia’s residential service at Malleny St in Ashbury – has made a successful return to supported employment at our packing business, Prestige Packaging Co, in Marrickvile.

“Emma recently moved from the lower support Burwood Road Belfield house to the 24 hour Malleny St residence, and the move has really allowed her to take great strides in her recovery journey,” says Alex Avenarius, the Manager of Malleny Street. “Since moving, Emma has been noticeably happier and settled, and I think it’s a great example of just how important the right level of support can be to a person’s wellbeing.”

Alex congratulated Emma and the support staff for working so hard on the recovery journey. Now let’s hear Emma tell her story…

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Extract from “Maze of Mind”

Elizabeth Watkins.jpg

ELIZABETH WATKINS has written a little book about her experiences of living with mental health issues. We know that Panorama readers will be interested to read about the things that Elizabeth has been able to do to get through the rough patches, and how she’s kept well enough to stay out of hospital. Here is an excerpt…

It has been over twelve years now since I have needed to be admitted to a mental health unit or a hospital for bipolar disorder. Overall, apart from these episodes of being unwell, I think that I have lived a happy, healthy and fulfilling life. What I would like to do here is to talk about some of the things that I have done which have helped get me through the periods of depression both nowadays and in the past.

Over the years I have had a huge amount of support from family, friends and medical / psychological professionals and more often than not in patient treatment. However, I realise that sometimes it is so very important to remember that I have been blessed with an inner strength and an exceptionally strong will to live. These are qualities I am lucky to have.

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3 years after YPOP: A different person

Desley 1.jpg

by Desley (as told to Grant J Everett)

Desley discusses how life has changed for her in the time since she completed Flourish Australia’s Young People’s Outreach Program (YPOP)

I’ve reached the point where I don’t have (or need) support from a professional point of view anymore. I prefer to look after myself. I already get plenty of support from friends and family, even though confiding in family can be…weird. When somebody knows you so well, it can feel really awkward opening up to them.

Now, I’m somebody who provides support to others. For instance, my best friend Talia, who I love and adore to bits, recently returned to her family in Queensland. I encouraged her to do this because she wanted to get back to how she was a couple of years ago. Before Talia moved down to NSW she was doing really well: she was working, she was a vegan, and she was exercising. Once she got to Sydney, though, she began to feel as though she lost her way. She didn’t know what she was doing with her life. She was at that point where people are either going to Uni or climbing the ladder at their career, but instead, she was stuck in a loop. She was anxious about the move back to Queensland, but I reminded her that it’s all good.

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What did we do at the 2017 TheMHS Conference?

Coffee for a cause.jpgAbove: Employees from Flourish Australia’s Figtree Conference Centre showed their versatility by staffing a coffee cart at TheMHS 2017 Conference!

The 2017 TheMHS (pronounced “themes”) Conference was held at the Hilton Sydney between the 29th of August and the 1st September, and Flourish Australia was a proud Gold Sponsor.

TheMHS is an international conference focussed on improving mental health services in Australia and New Zealand, and it serves as an open forum for exchanging research and professional development. This three-day event attracts 1,000 delegates each year, and it consistently challenges what we know about mental health. This year’s theme was “Embracing change through innovation and lived experience”, which is at the core of everything we do here at Flourish Australia.

Presenters at TheMHS examine recent obstacles, set out new challenges, and focus on policies, programs and directions for the future. As presenters and delegates can be researchers, policy makers, people with a lived experience, their carers and everybody in between, this it the place to be for networking in the mental health sector. Each year a core topic is chosen as the focus, and any speakers who have a connection to this topic are invited to present at the forum.

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What did we say at TheMHS and IMHC?

On pages 16 and 17 we gave an overview of Flourish Australia’s extensive involvement as Gold Sponsor at this year’s TheMHS Conference. Well, we also had a voice at the International Mental Health Conference just before that. Here’s a closer look at what our presenters had to say.

A psychological FitBit?

Presentation: “Stepped Care: a need to embrace change with innovative and pragmatic person-led mechanisms,” by Grant MacPhail (Senior Policy and Planning Co-ordinator, Flourish Australia)

In collaborative environments, such as Partners in Recovery or stepped care programs, we tend to have cooperation between not just different services, but different ways of thinking. In this “co-design” environment all stakeholders get a say (individuals, hospitals, mental health services etc). But how do we prevent and remove power imbalances? Also, how can we generate an evidence base that satisfies all the different approaches, and which also satisfies the government when they decide where to allocate funding? Grant MacPhail’s presentation generated some vibrant discussions on the topic.

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ADE Outplacements

Priya and Catherine.jpgEver dream of open employment? Priya and Catherine (above, left and right) did and gained outplacement experience thanks to Australian Disability Enterprise Outplacements.

There is a way you can receive mental health support from Flourish Australia while working for an external employer in preparation for open employment.

During 2017, Flourish Australia piloted a new scheme to assist people making the transition from supported employment to open employment. It is called “Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE) Outplacements.” It enables people to experience an open employment environment with an employer other than Flourish Australia, while receiving a wage equivalent to the open job market and also having access to a mental health support worker.

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Go to the Snow

in front of waterfallFrom left: Rachel Sheather, Elizabeth Sier and Rebecca Smith beside the falls

By Rachel Sheather

One Friday during the snow season, we went to Corin Forest, ACT, to see the snow and go tobogganing. It was the first time I had seen snow and it was great to be there with friends.

We travelled together in a group in transport provided by Flourish Australia. Travel took two and a half hours, and getting in cost $22 entry and $5 for toboggan hire.

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