Western Health district asks residents to help tailor mental health support services

Mrs Julie Cunningham.

Mrs Julie Cunningham.

The Western Local Health District (WLHD) is asking people with drug, alcohol and mental health problems or those who have supported a person that has, to share their stories to better tailor services.

The initiative is part of Mental Health Month, which has the theme “Share the journey”.

The theme was selected by people from around NSW because of the importance of social connections in improving people’s overall mental health and wellbeing and building their resilience.  

Opportunities currently exist for positions on various mental health drug and alcohol committees who work with staff and have a say in how services are run.

The WLHD’s consumer and carer coordinator Julie Cunningham says people who have mental health or drug and alcohol experience can provide the service with valuable insight into what can be done to better support people in their recovery, based on their own experience.

“… we understand that we can achieve better outcomes when we all work together,” Mrs Cunningham said.

“This Mental Health Month we are recruiting people with experience of mental health or drug and alcohol issues to contribute as consultants to our health service.”

WayAhead chief executive Elizabeth Priestley said an important part of each Mental Health Month is to help lead the de-stigmatisation of mental illness.

“This includes supporting people with a lived experience to play an active role in their community, to be seen and heard and to share what it’s like for them to live with their mental illness,” Ms Priestley said.

“Reaching out, making social connections and sharing personal stories provide a different perspective on mental illness for people who don’t live with one.

“What I have found is that once people have an understanding of what living with a mental illness is like, their misconceptions and stigmas disappear.”

During Mental Health Month, WayAhead provides small grants to local communities throughout NSW to create local events that start conversations and share information about better mental health and wellbeing.

In 2017 WayAhead provided 50 grants to different community organisations throughout the state. 

“Our local community events provide much needed opportunities for people with a lived experience of mental illness to participate in their local area,” Mrs Priestley said.

“They also serve as a great prevention tool because they create connections between people and give them resources and tips that they can utilise in their everyday life to achieve positive mental health.

If you’re interested in being involved with the WLHD contact Julie Cunningham at Julie.Cunningham@health.nsw.gov.au or on 0428 029 648 or Jennifer Coote at Jennifer.Coote@health.nsw.gov.au or on 0409 334 191.

Visit mentalhealthmonth.wayahead.org.au