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Mind’s innovative Connect service in Mount Gambier is significantly improving mental health and wellbeing outcomes for its service users, a six-month evaluation has shown.

Preliminary data collected from pilot exit surveys shows it has improved mental wellbeing for 89 percent of surveyed participants and that more than 85 percent of participants felt satisfied by their experience with the service.

The Connect - Mount Gambier service is a peer-led alternative to hospitalisation and Emergency Department presentations for people experiencing psychological distress and/or suicidality in the Limestone Coast region (South Australia).

The service is designed to prevent hospitalisations for people in crisis and to support early discharge for people who are already in an acute in-patient setting. 

Connect – Mount Gambier participants are supported to develop the skills to better manage their mental health challenges in the community, reducing the likelihood of future crisis and hospitalisations.

Ian from Mount Gambier recently exited the service after three months of support following a “bad bipolar breakdown”.

The 37-year-old received support from Adam – a qualified mental health practitioner who has his own lived experience of mental ill-health, which he draws upon to provide hope and empathy and encourage trust in a participant’s recovery journey.

“Adam was a buddy to talk to. He was on my level and it was easy to share with him,” Ian said.

“Adam would come to my house every week, spend time with me and we’d play guitar together. We would go for walks around the lakes and talk about how my life was going and how I was doing.”

Adam supported Ian to gradually increase his connection with community and achieve his personal goals, which included improving his physical health.

“I used to be a personal trainer so it’s great to be more active and get back to the gym,” Ian said.

“Being physically active is important to me and I have noticed that it has helped my mental health too. I’m not drinking anymore either, and I attribute these changes to the time I spent with Adam.

“I’ve noticed differences in other areas of my life too, and my family relationships have improved as well.”

Peer-led psychosocial support services like Connect – Mount Gambier are the future of mental health care, according to Brett Williams, Mind’s General Manager Operations in South Australia.

“Practitioners with a lived experience of mental ill-health have a unique ability to gain the trust of participants and inspire the confidence needed to take positive steps in their mental health recovery journey,” he said.

“Peer practitioners can role-model their own recovery, including what they do to manage their wellbeing and what they do when things aren’t going well. People with similar lived experience can offer each other practical advice and suggestions for strategies that professionals may not offer or even know about.

“It’s early days, but Connect – Mount Gambier is just another example of how effective and valuable peer-led psychosocial support can be for people experiencing mental health challenges.”

Connect – Mount Gambier participants can receive support face-to-face, through online or telephone support, or a combination of the three, for up to 12 weeks.

Service users also have access to Mind’s My Better Life recovery tool. This is a co-designed, evidence-based program that helps people experiencing mental health challenges to identify and then achieve their personal recovery goals.

For more information on Mind support services near you, contact us via Mind Connect or phone: 1300 286 463.

If this article raises concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders can also call 13 YARN (13 92 76) a 24/7 national crisis support telephone service staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 
If you would like more information, please contact us.

1300 286 463 
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