Why I’m sharing my story to combat stigma
5 minute read

Haven Pakenham resident Sam says it’s time to normalise conversation about mental health in the ongoing fight against stigma.

Sam, 23, moved into The Haven Foundation’s new 16-unit residence in Pakenham in November 2023. Haven residences provide safe, secure long-term housing for people experiencing mental health challenges, with support from qualified and experienced mental health practitioners.

Prior to moving into Haven Pakenham, Sam said he was hurt by online conversations about the development and the people who would live there.

“When I was accepted into Haven I joined the Facebook group for the local estate and they were talking about Haven as an issue and that it was going to detract from people’s land values,” he said.

“I’ve lived here for four months now and there hasn’t been a single issue. This housing is a great opportunity for people who would otherwise be unsafe and not have the support that they need.

“The more Havens that get built means more opportunities for people to live their best life. For me, Haven Pakenham is five minutes away from Mum and Dad, so I have that support and I’m still close to family and friends. I don’t have to change doctors or psychologists or learn a whole new area; I have support where I need it.”

Sam, who has a diagnosis of anxiety, depression and autism, said he is enjoying having his own place to call home, especially now that he shares it with his cat Kerfuffle.

It’s great having an environment that I can control at Haven, while still having access to the support I need. I’ve got less anxiety now and I’m starting to engage more with the community and other residents.
- Sam

“Having an animal has always been part of my life, and adopting Kerfuffle has given me purpose and a sense of responsibility,” he said.

“It’s great having an environment that I can control at Haven, while still having access to the support I need. I’ve got less anxiety now and I’m starting to engage more with the community and other residents.”

Sam’s mother Liz says Sam is thriving at Haven Pakenham.

“He has really blossomed,” she said.

“Sam was quite isolated at home, but living here he’s making connections with others. He’s participating in different groups and activities.”

An enhanced sense of connection with others was one of the key benefits of living at a Haven residence, a four-year, independent evaluation of the Haven model by La Trobe University has found.

Their research indicates that Havens are helping residents experience a reduction in mental distress and improved self-confidence and skills for independent living.

About Mind Australia and The Haven Foundation

Mind Australia supports people experiencing mental health challenges to find help, hope and purpose in their lives.

We partner with health, community, and government organisations to provide holistic support and a safe environment for people experiencing mental health challenges to live in the community.

Mind is one of the leading specialist community housing providers in Australia for people experiencing a psychosocial disability.

Haven residences have operated in Victoria since 2011. There are currently seven residences providing a home, stability and support to more than 100 people in Victoria, with more in development.

Haven residences provide high quality, long-term housing with specialised 24/7 mental health support from Mind to help people live life to the fullest. This integrated social housing and support service is a partnership between Mind and The Haven Foundation – a subsidiary of Mind.

If you would like more information about Mind services, contact us by submitting a form 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 
[email protected]  

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Two women sitting together smiling

Haven Pakenham resident Sam says it’s time to normalise conversation about mental health in the ongoing fight against stigma.

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Jenni smiling with her dog

Jenni says living at The Haven Foundation’s residence in Frankston has improved her mental health, and her relationships with family.

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Infographic of home from outside

Matt has come a long way from the isolated and shy person who moved into The Haven Foundation’s residence in Frankston two years ago.

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