Helping to turn stress around
ACTIVITIES offered to residents and participants in recreational programs at Richmond Fellowship Tasmania’s sites form a big part of the road to wellbeing for people with mental health issues. The organisation provides a range of creative, social and sporting activities to help support mental and general wellbeing, build confidence and engage in an active lifestyle.
Residents at the Rokeby site have recently been enjoying ‘horse therapy’, where time with the animals is important in helping build trust and confidence.
Staff support consumers with their individual recovery journey to reach their own wellbeing destination. They can either join in activities with groups, which is encouraged where social inclusion has been an issue or pursue individual pursuits which can help people get back in touch with their previous interests. Regular activities include bush walking, fishing, cooking and art therapy. All of these not only help consumers relax but help people take ownership of their life.
RFT chief executive Miriam Moreton says: “The aim of the recreational activities is to build confidence and selfesteem and promote a general feeling of wellbeing.
“Having a choice of recreational activities that suit individuals is an important part of a recovery journey.”
Further afield are the boxing classes that residents at the Ulverstone site have been taking part in. A group went to a talk by Tony Sturzaker, a local who has a lived experience of mental health issues and addiction. Tony talked about his experience and how with the right supports and exercise and perseverance he was able to overcome these issues. Tony is now involved with O’Callaghan’s gym and is now supporting RFT consumers to use exercise and healthy living to help with their recovery.
Ulverstone team leader Carlene Hutton says: “For our consumers it’s about seeing and listening to someone who’s been in their shoes, has shared similar experiences of mental health and addiction. Sometimes this can be just getting yourself out of bed every day and taking one step at a time. LIFE wasn’t meant to be easy, but finding mental and emotional balance can be a real challenge.
Many people struggle to cope with ongoing stress, anxiety and mood disorders, and this can take a devastating toll on their relationships with friends, family and work colleagues.
Data published by the Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing estimates about 7.3 million Australians aged 16-85 years will experience a common mental health-related condition such as depression, anxiety or a substance use disorder in their lifetime.
According to Primary Health Tasmania’s Health Intelligence Report, at any time about two to three per cent of adult Australians have a severe mental illness, four to six per cent have a moderate mental illness and nine to 12 per cent have a mild mental illness. For Tasmania, this translates to 14,860 people living with severe mental illness, 29,721 people with moderate mental illness and 59,442 people with a mild mental illness.
But supports do exist for Tasmanians wanting to take control of their own mental and emotional wellbeing.
Wellways Australia runs a self-management program, Wellways to Health, which aims to improve individual wellbeing by supporting people to develop the skills to achieve and maintain optimal health.
The Wellways team in Hobart received positive feedback from participants in their recent July program.
One participant said, “I am learning to turn my stress around.”
The Wellways to Health program is also ideal for people struggling to access other funded or private psychological services due to cost or remoteness of location.
Entry to the program is via self-referral, referral from families and carers as well as from GPs and other health and community services.