Wellways recently launched a ground-breaking program, Connect for Wellness, with the South Western Sydney Primary Healthcare Network.

Connect for Wellness is an innovative peer support program, combining both individual and group therapy and is aimed at people living with a severe and persistent mental health issue. Wellways developed the model and is delivering it across south-western Sydney and some regional areas through the South Western Sydney PHN.

Wellways Regional Manager South West Sydney Kate Chatterton said Connect for Wellness was an innovative and exciting initiative focused on supporting people who were traditionally least likely to engage with services but were often the most in need of them.

“The involvement of professionals with a lived experience of mental health issues working with psychologists helps bridge a gap that has traditionally been neglected in models of care and is a refreshing step in the right direction for more accessible mental health service provision,” Ms Chatterton said.

South Western Sydney PHN CEO Keith McDonald welcomed the addition of Connect for Wellness to the growing suite of mental health programs commissioned to address local health needs.

“During the past 18 months, we have committed more than $9 million towards providing targeted and locally relevant mental health services to support people living with mental illness,” Mr McDonald said.

“This program is unique because it uses primary care support approaches for people with severe mental illness, particularly psychological support approaches that can predict future distress, avoid unnecessary hospitalisations and ensure ongoing support via peer workers with a lived experience, which have previously not been available locally.” People need to be referred to the program by a health professional.