Help­ing to turn stress around

Sunday Tasmanian - - Book Right Now -

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.

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