Hobart arts and mental health forum

Wellways Tasmania staff, together with consumers, carers, government and community service organisations across the state, recently participated in the Arts and Mental Health Forum at Kickstart Arts in Hobart. The day focused on the benefits of art and creativity on mental wellbeing, program development and promotion, and arts and mental health advocacy.

Speakers from a number of different services, including Wellways staff Maike Schacht and Seth Binns, talked about the positives of art and creativity, both in their professional and personal lives. The forum provided information on studies and research into art and creativity in mental health and how research can inform the development of innovative programs. Practical workshops, on art therapy, music therapy, poetry and written self-expression in promoting mental health recovery, were also a feature of the forum.

A larger arts and mental health conference is being planned in Tasmania for November of this year. For more information, contact Jacquie Maginnis, Health Promotion Coordinator, by email or phone on (03) 6166 6924.

Women’s Mental Health Service in ACT

A new Women’s Mental Health Service (WMHS), developed and managed by Wellways in partnership with the ACT Government is now operating in the ACT. The service has three houses, through Housing ACT, as a residential rehabilitation program for women with mental illness needing support in their recovery. Most women utilising the service will access support for six to eight months or less, to focus on improving daily living skills, gaining an understanding of mental health and physical health issues, participating in the community, and engaging in education or employment. Upon exiting the program, it is envisaged that women will have developed strong community links and natural supports, together with suitable long-term accommodation. Jennifer Sheen, WMHS team leader, is thrilled about the new service: “We’re finding such a great sense of achievement in working with women and seeing the steps they are choosing to take to achieve their personal goals. Women entering the program are expressing how lucky and grateful they feel to be a part of this. We’re finding they consider it a miracle in their lives."

Focus on Indigenous issues

The Wellways team in Murrumbidgee, NSW, have recently participated in several important events focusing on Indigenous issues: the National Apology Day event conducted by Wagga Wagga City Council at Marimbidya Wetlands and Healing Place, and the Indigenous Mental Health Forum held in Perth.  

The Apology Day event was attended by the local community, council members, Aboriginal elders and members of the Stolen Generation. Wellways donated two trees to the local healing place, officially opened in 2016 on Apology Day, and provided the BBQ lunch for all attendees. Wellways’ partnership with Wagga Council was gratefully acknowledged by the Council’s Aboriginal and Youth Engagement Officer, Sam Kirby.

Earlier this month the Murrumbidgee Enhanced Adult Community Support Services (EACLSS) team attended the 2017 Indigenous Mental Health Forum in Perth, which brought together representatives from Aboriginal organisations, NGOs and government working in the space of Aboriginal mental health and social and emotional wellbeing. The key learnings identified by the team included ways in which elders can be involved in guiding service delivery and how to ensure that organisations are providing genuine and holistic services based on social and emotional wellbeing frameworks for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Much of the forum focused on gaps in service provision, challenges of working in the sector, and programs that are making a genuine difference in addressing Indigenous mental health issues and high suicide rates.

Connected in Campbelltown

The Wellways Youth Community Living Support Service (YCLSS) has linked up with Campbelltown’s Wellbeing Network (CWN), in a collaboration aimed at implementing the Five Ways to Wellbeing strategy in the region’s local health district.

The collaboration brings together Wellways, Global Fusion, Ability Links, One Door Mental Health, West Tigers, Mission Australia and other organisations across the region to work on creating physically and mentally healthier communities. One of the main goals of the network is to address anxiety, depression and suicide, and to promote positive mental health through community initiatives and events.

The Five Ways to Wellbeing are connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give.

Talking about reconciliation

The recent edition of Wellways’ Talking about reconciliation newsletter focused on the over-representation, across Australia, of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care. Research shows that children placed in out-of-home care suffer a range of social issues from hypertension to drug abuse, with some even becoming career criminals. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are over-represented in child protection and out-of-home care services compared to non-Indigenous children. The reasons for this are complex and are influenced by past policies such as forced removals, the effects of lower socio-economic status, differences in child rearing practices and intergenerational trauma (‘Child Protection and Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Children’ fact sheet, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 1997).