Dancing Away Anxiety
Imagine living a life that is full of social anxiety; you don’t want to leave the home, your depressed, your self-worth is zero, you have no friends, you might have panic attacks or even seizures, and you really hate large crowds, it sounds overwhelming right! Well, five such ladies who have all experienced similar mental health issues over the years made an enormous leap this year and joined the crowd at the Ability Ball where there were hundreds of people in attendance. Two of them even sang with the IMPACT Community Choir in front of everyone.
The ladies are all participants in the Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs) program that is run at IMPACT, and during their time here they have become close and supportive friends. Joanne Gordon, support worker, said, “One of these ladies has never even been to an event like this in her life, this was a huge effort. They independently organised their attendance and stood by each other all the way. They went shopping for dresses, helped with makeup and hair, stuck together on the night and pulled each other up if they were feeling overwhelmed, and they even got up and had a dance. It took a lot of courage for them to go to the ball, and we’re so proud of them all. It was a great night and they all want to go again next year.”
Journey of Recovery
For many people the small things in life can feel like huge hurdles, and asking for help can be overwhelmingly scary. But when you take a leap of faith and ask for help you don’t often look back.
Sally* has some mental health problems and had many other issue impacting on her life, she came to IMPACT in 2008. Sally admitted there were a few concerns, she felt discriminated against because of her mental illness during some legal matters, she had substance abuse, accommodation issues and was unsure with how to move forward.
“It has been a long journey for Sally,” said IMPACT’s PIR case worker Aileen. “She has grown so much since she became involved with the Partners In Recovery (PIR) programme nearly 10 months ago. PIR allows Sally to be the master of her journey, with our support. She is the expert in her life and so she decided which issues required attention. So many of the changes in her life are changes that she has made due to the support she has received,” Aileen said.
Sally now has a positive outlook; a private rental has been secured for her accommodation, she is living a drug-free lifestyle and she feels her mental health is definitely improving. “Every day is a new day where I am not dwelling in the past and I can say I am enjoying life on this journey of recovery,” she said.
PIR supports people who have severe and persistent mental illness. Our case workers, like Aileen, collaborate between different services that can assist each person individually. We aim to have everyone who can help you work in a more coordinated and integrated partnership. If you’d like to learn more about PIR and IMPACT’s support services, please get in touch.
*Name has been changed for anonymity
Getting out of the house can be daunting for those who suffer from a mental illness, but for the group who meet at IMPACT every Wednesday it is a welcome get together that they all look forward too. They call themselves the Cooee group and each week they take part in either an art project, play a game of pool, meet new friends for a chat or just sit back and relax in a comfortable non-judgemental environment.
The Cooee group was initiated by staff from IMPACT’s Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMs) program as a way to get their clients to better socialise and integrate with others in the community. For some people the Cooee group get together is their only outing all week.
Diane has always been hesitant when venturing outside so as not to see any strangers. “I always avoided answering the door or the phone and I’d worry about running into people when I went outside,” she said. “I used to resist socialising at any time; my first few visits with the group were so scary. Coming to IMPACT is now my weekly outing and I love it. The PhaMs team are fantastic; everyone makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. Even if your support worker is not available someone will step up to help you.”
Kay has a similar story. “I came from such a bad place; I couldn’t function on so many levels,” she said. “Since joining the PHaMs program I now look forward to coming every week to meet with friends and have a chat. It always feels like a productive day when we come to IMPACT, a real achievement.”
The Cooee group mainly base their activities around art and craft, and the guys often take on a game of pool in the next room. Mostly though, it is all about getting together with trusted people to enjoy an afternoon where there is no judgement, lots of respect and great company.
PHaMs is an Australian Government Initiative
Let's laugh, talk, share and create! This is the theme IMPACT's Personal Helpers & Mentors Services (PHaMs) live by every Wednesday when they gather for some creative outlet. The regular classes are becoming popular and the group hopes to grow as others join in the fun. "We're really looking forward to growing the group and developing fantastic art creations," said support worker Kerry.
Artistic talents soar in the friendly supported environment where you can turn your hand to paint, knit, crochet, mosaic or make anything you like. "Getting together with people we are all comfortable with helps us relax and de-stress. We also help develop self-awareness and self-esteem, work on social skills and we discuss how to manage behaviours or symptoms with peer support and support workers. It can often help solve problems by looking at issues with a different perspective," Kerry said. "We like you to just be yourself and create!"
PHaMs support worker Wendy also joins in each week, "Art is a great way for people to express themselves without having to talk if they don`t want to. We love seeing clients who have struck up friendships with other participants and now share their knowledge and skills with each other. Now they look forward to catching up each week. For those who have no affinity with art, they meet for a few games of pool in our pool room, but they're still socialising all the same."
PHaMs is an Australian Government initiative