11 May 2022
Mind Australia CEO Gill Callister says Australians have a better understanding of the connection between things like housing, job security and social connection to mental health since the pandemic.
Ms Callister made the observation speaking at a charity function at the Green Acres Golf Club in Kew East. Green Acres Gold Club has made a number of donations to Mind to support its work providing recovery support for people with significant mental health challenges.
Ms Callister’s speech can be read below.
Hello everyone, thank you for the invitation to be here today at this stunning location and be a part of your Charity Week activities.
On behalf of everyone at Mind Australia, I’d like to thank you for so kindly making Mind one of the two key organisations you support through your great fundraising activities.
Your generous donations make a real difference to the people we support and I would like to take a few minutes to explain how.
One positive development to have come out of the last two extraordinary years of pandemic and lockdown is a recognition across the broader Australian community that all of us are as vulnerable to fluctuations in our mental health, as we are as to our physical health.
It has broken down barriers and helped us understand as a community that ‘the mentally ill’ are not some separate species of human beings.
Mental ill-health affects everyone
Through the isolation of lockdowns, children struggling through home-schooling, the increased anxiety people faced as a result of job loss and income insecurity – we have all come to better understand the impact these seemingly external situations can have on our mental health and that of our loved ones, families, friends and neighbours.
For all of us, our ongoing mental health and wellbeing is grounded in things like having somewhere safe and secure to live. Having work that pays the bills and gives us a sense of worth. Building friendships and relationships and having social connection in the community.
This is just as much the case, if not more so, for people with significant mental health challenges. At Mind Australia, we support people who are living with a range of diagnosed mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and dual disabilities. Working in partnership with clinical partners we help our clients establish the roots in the community that are the foundation for sustained recovery.
What we do at Mind
We don’t just take care of people, we support them and empower them to have the life that they want. Our clients tell us what is important to them for a fulfilling life in the community and we help them get there. We help people build the courage to open their front door, go to the shops, catch a tram. With the right support, recovery is possible for everyone.
Psychosocial supports – like the kind provided by Mind Australia – help people with mental health and wellbeing issues manage daily activities, rebuild and maintain connections, engage with education and employment, and participate fully in the community. These are supports which help people take positive steps in their recovery journey.
I recently got chatting to a resident at a Haven Home, where Mind provides just this kind of psychosocial support. Before he moved into Haven, he hadn’t left his room for two years – think about that. He is now an active member of the local cricket club, an indication of just how far he has come on his recovery journey.
It is particularly important that we are able to do this work with young people – when early intervention and the right support can prevent a youthful mental health crisis from becoming - quite unnecessarily but all too commonly - a lifelong mental health condition. It's critical to support young people to stay engaged with school and work and have hope and aspiration for a future not defined by mental illness.
A key focus of the recent Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System was the appalling number of people in mental distress and at risk of suicide who present to already overstretched Emergency Departments that are unable to provide the support they need.
One of the Commission’s key findings is that sustained recovery for people living with mental health challenges is about so much more than clinical diagnosis and medication. It is about holistic, in-community support, something we have been providing for clients, their families friends and carers for more than 40 years.
How donations make a difference at Mind Australia
Across our residential and outreach services and in our Mind Recovery College courses and other fabulous day group recovery activities, donations like yours make so much difference to what our clients can experience and achieve.
We disburse fundraising donations across our services where they are needed, to fill the gaps in our client’s limited NDIS packages.
They can be the difference between being able to provide art supplies or musical instruments so young people can find expression and connection in art and music groups, creating fabulous things together as they work on their recovery. They can mean the opportunity for clients to go on a Mind Recovery Retreat and experience being away from home for a few days with people who understand where they are coming from, in a way most of us take for granted.
They can be the chance for clients at residential services to go to Bunnings and buy materials to build the service a vegetable garden. A simple project like this can not only promote physical exercise but can help clients who struggle with activities like going to stores.
Our residential support staff so often find that shared projects like this are the safe space in which powerful recovery conversations happen.
Just as importantly, donations can be the chance to provide family members or friends who are primary carers of our clients with a much needed respite break, a chance to connect with other carers, a chance to take some time out and do an activity for their own wellbeing.
Research at Mind
Donations also support projects within our research and evaluation division, which is a sector leader. This team builds and translates the evidence about what works in mental health recovery into policy and practice wisdom.
As well as our own published research, we’ve contributed our sought-after expertise to state and federal government inquiries, including the landmark Productivity Commission into Mental Health and Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.
Mental ill-health used to be called the invisible illness, but I think we can all see that that is changing in our community. Your own dedication to supporting mental health recovery is one sign of that. So, again, on behalf of Mind I thank you all for your vision and insight here at Green Acres in helping us support the people who come to us seeking help hope and purpose. Thank you.