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Government of Western Australia Mental Health Commission

Summer |2013

Creating a Mentally Healthy WA

Celebrate Connect Grow

FREE Magazine of the Mental Health Commission

Foreword 2012 has been a challenging, yet very productive year at the Mental Health Commission. The past 12 months have seen many changes in the mental health sector, including the introduction of the new legislation into Parliament, progressive implementation of the Individualised Community Living initiative, announcement of the first mental health court diversion program for both adults and youth, as well as implementation of the Statewide Specialist Aboriginal Mental Health Service and the development of the first subacute facility in Western Australia. These are all vital steps towards creating a modern and effective mental health system that has the individual and their recovery at the centre of its focus. This edition of Head2Head explores ways in which the mental health sector across the State, whether in public, private or community organisations, are making a positive difference to the lives of people living with mental health problems and/or mental illness and their families, carers, friends and communities. Our feature article profiles Mr Peter Fitzpatrick, Chair of the Ministerial Council for Suicide Prevention who emphasises the importance of suicide prevention and the power of partnerships in implementing the WA Suicide Prevention Strategy. Each of the people and organisations who have contributed to this edition provide insight into the positive effects of working together and of inspiring others. The stories about friendships, relationships and services spanning from young people to older citizens will offer you ideas and tips on reaching out to others and looking after your own mental health. As the year 2012 is gradually and steadily rolling to a close, I hope you will all have an enjoyable and restful break with family and friends. I look forward to working with you again next year as we continue to progress key mental health reforms. I am excited at what 2013 will bring and I take this opportunity to wish you and those you love and care for a safe and happy holiday season. Eddie Bartnik, Commissioner for Mental Health




Head2Head magazine is also available online at EDITOR: COPIES:

Marsha Dale T: (08) 6272 1200 T: (08) 6272 1200

E: E:


Images from 2012 Mental Health Week and Good Outcomes Awards

Good Outcomes Awards

Mental health shines in Awards The Mental Health Good Outcomes Awards celebrated its tenth birthday showcasing the significant achievements in Western Australia’s mental health sector. The winners were announced at an Awards breakfast at the University Club of Western Australia during Mental Health Week in October. The awards ceremony was opened by Eddie Bartnik, Commissioner for Mental Health who said each recipient had made an outstanding contribution to the mental health sector. “How lucky our country is to have organisations and people like you willing to work for a brighter future for people experiencing mental health issues, their families, carers, friends and communities,” Mr Bartnik said. “The enthusiasm, commitment and fortitude of the mental health sector are a constant source of inspiration to me and the high calibre of entries in 2012 Good Outcomes Awards is evidence of this. Every finalist has demonstrated excellence in their field and their success will inspire other Western Australians to embrace and promote innovation in the mental health sector.”

In her speech to 250 guests, Minister for Mental Health, Helen Morton said she is proud to be a part of a sector that is committed, passionate and dedicated to improving the lives of people with mental illness, their carers, family and friends. “You are shining examples of what can be achieved through hard work and dedication and I congratulate you on your achievements,” Mrs Morton said. Winners were presented with a cash prize of $1,000, a framed certificate and a commissioned art trophy created by consumers at Disability in the Arts, Disadvantage in the Arts (DADAA). The winners will be profiled in the next three editions of Head2Head magazine. For more information about the Awards, please visit the Commission’s website at www.mentalhealth.

THE 2012 WINNERS Andrew Markovs

West Australian Newspapers Limited Award for consumer involvement and engagement

Tony Fowke

SonShine FM Award for family and carers involvement and engagement and McCusker Charitable Foundation Award for excellence in mental health

McCusker Nurse Service - Amana Living

Edith Cowan University Award for prevention, promotion and/or early intervention service or program

Community Arts Network WA

John Da Silva Award for improved outcomes in Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing

Project Picasso - Amana Living

GESB Award for improved outcomes in seniors mental health

Carers WA

Dr Mark Rooney Award for improved outcomes in child and young mental health sponsored by the Commissioner for Children & Young People.

Boab Health Service

University of Western Australia, School of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences Award for excellence in rural and remote mental health

Julie Potts & Ruth Sims

St John of God Health Care Mental health employee of the year Award

Perth Home Care Service

Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute Award for recovery-focused service or program

Freedom Centre

WA Equal Opportunity Commissioner Award for human rights, equity and diversity in mental health

Drug and Alcohol Youth Hollywood Private Hospital Award for improved mental health outcomes delivered v 1 vinHead2Head Summer 2012/3 - Celebrate Service partnership -with drug and alcohol servicesConnect Grow v

A sustainable workforce

The Commission’s ‘Wellbies’ Ramble in Perth Touted as a cross between a ‘treasure hunt’ and the ‘Amazing Race’, the 2012 Rotary Ramble took place on Sunday, 21 October. The day began with Mental Health Commission’s very own team, the Wellbies, assembling among over 600 other teams in anticipation of a day of curly questions, challenges, and chasing checkpoints dotted all over the Perth business and entertainment districts. Most of all, it was for a good cause – to raise money for the Channel 7 Telethon Trust and Australian Rotary Health, which fund research into mental illness and other health-related areas. For the second year in a row, the Mental Health Commission’s staff members formed an enthusiastic team, who were prepared to immerse themselves in discovering the ‘secrets’ of our wonderful city over a four-hour period. Equipped with a map, mobile phone, chocolate, keenly-tuned bunny ears, an impressive witch’s hat, and with one team member flouting a fabulous tiara, the Wellbies set off from Langley Park, with many opponents in colourful and lavishlyembellished outfits hot on their tails.

Some of the Wellbies team - Louise S, Lisette and Louise H after the Rotary Ramble

The Wellbies’ participation in the event was the brainchild of the Commission’s own Wellbeing Team, whose members organise a number of great initiatives that promote wellbeing in the workplace. This year, the Wellbeing Team have scheduled various events that support the aims of improved wellbeing, team building and greater socialisation among existing and new staff members. While the Wellbies didn’t win any of the fabulous prizes on offer and felt that they could have done more with their outfits, they all agreed it was a great day out and that they would be keen to rise to the Rotary Ramble challenge again! For more information visit

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Rural and remote

Sand Tracks Cross Border Tour Once again the Country Arts WA Sand Tracks program has completed its cross-border tour shedding musical inspiration across six remote communities through the central Australian desert. Sand Tracks works to profile and develop contemporary Aboriginal musicians, grow remote audiences and build community skills and experiences in presenting professional performing arts. Jessica Machin, Country Arts WA Chief Executive Officer said the Sand Tracks program was created and developed in collaboration with local communities to ensure maximum community benefit from what has now become a nationally recognised project. “Through the Mental Health Commission’s funding, the program was able to include an additional two facilitators to assist with workshop development and delivery,” she said. The musical workshops target the specific needs of each community in the hope of growing the number of local community musicians who will be seen on a Sand Tracks tour in the future. As a launch pad for aspiring and emerging Aboriginal musicians, this tour all eyes and ears were on bush legends Tjupi Band from Papunya in the Northern Territory and Blackstone Band from Papulankutja in WA. Ms Machin believes bands like Tjupi Band have much to offer aspiring musicians in remote communities. “There is real anticipation about the chance to see and learn from such experienced musicians,” she said.

Top: Tyupi Band Bottom: Blackstone Band

“Tjupi Band epitomises Central Australian Desert reggae – sparse upbeat and driving kick and snare. The songs are about loneliness for country, love lost, listening to Elders, following tradition, social issues, skin pride, tribal unity and, most importantly, pride of culture.”

Learning from the members of Warumpi Band, Tjupi Band now feel it is their turn to be mentors for young Aboriginial musicians. Blackstone Band is another emerging desert rock-reggae group who have been credited for their atmospheric, strong stage presence. In the 2011 Bush Bands Bash, Blackstone Band were singled out by Blue King Brown’s Manager Carlo Santone as ‘the band to follow’. After playing for local community events in their region, the Band looks forward to touring further and building their performance experience and their career. Collectively, since Sand Track’s inauguration in 2009, Aboriginal bands have toured over 20,000 kilometres across the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia. For more information contact Sand Tracks on 1800 811 883 or email v 3 v Head2Head - Summer 2012/3 - Celebrate Connect Grow v

Mental Health Week

Celebrate, Connect, Grow Funded by the Mental Health Commission, the WA Association of Mental Health once again organised events in WA to celebrate Mental Health Week. The theme for 2012 was Celebrate, Connect, Grow - a simple message that conveys meaning and relevance to the WA community. Mental Health Week is about: •

Celebrating the positive aspects in our lives, the achievements we have made and the strengths that help overcome the challenges life offers.

It is about connecting with family and friends and reaching out when someone is in need.

Growing by discovering passions, building knowledge and pursuing new and meaningful experiences that enrich overall wellbeing.

Inspired by the Commission’s ten-year strategic policy, Mental Health 2020: Making it personal and everybody’s business, the Mental Health Week Opening event also launched a Mental Health 20 x 20 Art Exhibition at the Subiaco Art Centre. Almost 200 pieces of art illustrating positive stories by people with mental illness were enjoyed by over 150 people who were in attendance. Minister for Mental Health Helen Morton opened the event saying “events like this remind the greater community of the importance of providing support to people with mental health problems and/or

mental illness to stay in the community, out of hospital and live a meaningful life.” “The enthusiasm, commitment and fortitude of the mental health sector are a constant source of inspiration to me – this week celebrates mental health, breaking down stigma and getting people to talk about mental health,” she said. The following day, Minister Morton launched a new Mental Health Week video, which sent out positive mental health messages, delivered by people with lived experiences of mental illness. The video, which can be found on YouTube, encourages everyone to engage with their community to promote mental health, think about their own personal mental health and work towards reducing stigma. Each year, October 10 marks World Mental Health Day, and this year was the 20th anniversary. To celebrate, the Murray Street Mall ‘turned tlue for the day” releasing 1,200 blue balloons displaying messages of hope. Turn Blue 4 A Day is the initiative of the Rural Community Support Services. The colour blue has been chosen for this annual event to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness – the blues. Volunteers from throughout the mental health sector

Turn Blue for a Day - Courtesy of Paul Mathew, St Bartholomew’s House

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Mental Health Week

Left: Viral media launch at the Northbridge Piazza Right: The Bell Vista team - Sue DiPardo, Jill Courtney, John Da Silva and Steve Matthews

and students from Perth College handed out mental health resource showbags, balloons and free apples provided by the Bell Vista Group of Companies.

community. After its great success, the tournament is anticipated to become an annual event during Mental Health Week.

In addition, throughout the week GESB organised free mental health talks at the Central Park theatrette. The guest speakers and topics included:

This year, the Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Recovery Association of WA held a mental health quiz night at the Manning Bowling Club and all proceeds went to the promotion of mental health recovery.

Deb Reveley, Brain Ambulance: Keeping Sane in a Busy Workplace

Fiona Kalaf, Lifeline WA: The Unique Nature of Managing Mental Health in the FIFO Environment

The Social Innovation Team: RUAH Mental Health, Employment and Mental Health

Dean Dyer, Mens Advisory Network: ‘Frog Rescue 101,’ Getting Men Back from the Brink.

Mr Dyer also provided advice and delivered mental health messages at the Putback Basketball Tournament, held on Saturday and Sunday at the end of Mental Health Week. Rod Astbury, WAAMH Executive Director opened the tournament with an excellent analysis of the week and outlined the importance of promoting men’s mental health. 35 teams registered to participate and help raise awareness and support the cause throughout the

The Music Feedback Soundblast! event was the closing ceremony to a fantastic week. The Minister for Mental Health closed the Week after the annual ARAFMI Walk of Pride against stigma. Walking with members from the Fremantle Jazz band, a large crowd marched from the Roundhouse to join the Soundblast! concert at Kings Square in Fremantle. The all-ages free event was the perfect end to Mental Health Week. Around 2,000 people engaged with the event throughout the day to see an exciting line-up of young musicians, talk about mental health in a way everyone can understand - through music. Mental Health Commissioner, Eddie Bartnik said he was proud of the way Western Australians embraced the week and the messages being promoted. “Our vision for mental health is to bring it into the community and make it part of ordinary life,” he said.

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Mental Health Week

Music talks about mental health Yabu Band’s Petrol and Glue recently won the ‘Mentally Healthy WAM Song of the Year’. Performed at the 2012 Deadly Awards at the Sydney Opera House, the song highlights the effects of abuse of inhalants in Aboriginal communities. Yabu Band is an Aboriginal rock/roots band formed in the mid-1990s in Kalgoorlie. The word yabu is Wongutha, a western desert tribal language for ‘rock’ or ‘gold’. The band’s core members are two brothers Delson (vocals) and Boyd Stokes (guitar), and Jade Masters (drums). When performing live they are also joined by Roy Martinez (bass), Lilly Gogos (vocals), Tony Shaw (didgeridoo) and Tim Ayre (keyboards). They won a Deadly award in 2009 for Most Promising New Talent in Music. The Deadly Awards, commonly known as The Deadlys, are an annual celebration of Aboriginal achievement in music, sport, entertainment and community. The Yabu Band was also a winner of the Mentally Healthy category at the WAM Song of the Year Awards 2012. In May 2012, Yabu Band toured Australia to promote

Jade Masters Pui San Whittaker and Del Stokes

their single ‘Petrol, Pain and Glue’, which was also nominated as Single of the Year at the 2012 Deadlys, held in September. Delson had written the song 12 years earlier after a family member had died from petrol sniffing. “Music knows no barriers. It’s a language which is universal and one day I would like to be a role model for our people,” said Delson. “We are passionate about strengthening our communities and promoting social and emotional wellbeing.” When asked about reaching out to people with mental health problems, Jade suggests “don’t look down on people, that’s a bad way to start. People need their friends to bring them up.” “If you see someone with mental illness – whether you know them or not – I’d encourage you to be very supportive and do everything you can to help them get through tough times,” he said. The Mental Health Commission has been a major sponsor of the WAM Song of the Year competition for five years. The Mentally Healthy category gives songwriters an outlet to express their thoughts on mental health issues and affirms the message that “Music talks about mental health. So can you.”

Yabu Band at the Deadly Awards

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WAM also run a series of inclusive workshops with Catch Music to assist aspiring songwriters to find their voice and build social connections. The Commission also continues to support the Music Feedback campaign, with $200,000 invested in 2012 for multimedia workshops for young people at-risk, mental health resources and community awareness events. Key partners include Ruah, the Youth Affairs

Council of WA, Department for Communities and headspace. Music fans can now access more great resources, with the 2012 Music Feedback CD/DVDs bringing together stellar talents such as Missy Higgins, Karnivool, Lanie Lane and Emperors to challenge the stigma around mental illness. To order free CD/DVDs for youth events or to obtain more information about Music Feedback and how to get involved visit

Living Proud When we asked lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) and otherwise sexuality, sex and/or gender diverse people in our community what ‘living proud’ meant to them, we received a variety of responses. “Living proud is being honestly and unashamedly yourself. It’s knowing that sometimes, even just existing is a form of resistance and a way to change the world. It’s embracing all of you, even the bits you dislike because they all add up to make an incredible human being,” said Mikey, Living Proud Community Champion. Community members commented that ‘living proud’ is about being who you are, being loved and accepted, staying strong even when it’s hard to do. It’s about being connected to a community of inspiring individuals who have (re)created their own lives, families, friendships and futures, often in the face of adversity. Living proud is about celebrating our lives; regardless of the labels we choose or have chosen for us. Living Proud is also the name of the LGBTI Community Action Plan developed as part of the One Life Western Australian Suicide Prevention Strategy, which seeks to make suicide prevention ‘everybody’s business’. Suicide is a leading cause of death in Australia, and it is estimated that more Australians die by suicide each year than in motor vehicle accidents. Due to the negative mental health impacts of discrimination and homophobia, it is estimated that same-sex attracted Australians attempt suicide at between three and 14 times the rate of heterosexuals. Same sex attracted young people are estimated to

Tamara Bezu and Regan Smith

attempt suicide at approximately six times the rate of their heterosexual peers, and research indicates that up to 50 per cent of transgender Australians have attempted suicide at least once in their lives. Living Proud is a call to action for the LGBTI community and allies to unite together to address the factors that put LGBTI people at risk of suicide. Through consultation with the LGBTI community, Gay Lesbian Community Services of WA have developed a range of initiatives aimed at helping the LGBTI community live proud, strong, safe and connected. From community picnics and fitness sessions, to diversity forums and suicide intervention and awareness training, there is a way for everyone to engage with ‘Living Proud’. For more information visit or email Tamara at To find out more about the One Life WA Suicide Prevention Strategy visit to If you need support for yourself or a friend, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

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Preventing suicide

Interview with Peter Fitzpatrick The Western Australian State Suicide Prevention Strategy was introduced in 2009, with the State government allocating $13 million for its implementation. Peter Fitzpatrick, Chair of the Ministerial Council for Suicide Prevention (MCSP) since July 2011, sat down to answer a few questions about the Strategy. Q Peter, can you tell us a little about yourself and the work you do? I started my working career with 20 years in the military and then spent 11 years as the Chief Executive Office of the Law Society of Western Australia. I also worked for former Prime Minister, John Howard MP, in a strategic role for 12 months and have run my own business for a while. My most recent appointment was as Chief Executive Officer of the Motor Industry, here in WA. Now I mentor 18 CEOs of different companies, I chair about four boards, sit on some others involving not for profit and private companies, and I do some teaching for the Institute of Company Directors Strategic Planning, Keynote Speaking and Leadership Training. Q What led you to Mental Health? I guess it all started back in the late 1980s when I was the President of Outcare, which is an organisation responsible for rehabilitation of ex offenders. It became quite obvious to me that the prison system in fact made people worse, and I had a conversation with the then Chief Justice, Sir Frances Burt who said that we really need to go back to supporting the young people and prevent them coming into the system. That led me to establish what is now known as Youth Focus. In 1990, I became the founding Chairman, and started to see some of the enormous trauma out there in the community amongst young people with mental disorders caused by drug taking, and major incidence of physical and sexual abuse. There were a lot of problems with families and

adolescent/parent relationships. I saw this first hand and at a pretty raw stage, so I stayed as the Chairman of that organisation for about seven or eight years. I finally handed it over in about 1998. I have been passionate about mental health ever since, more recently in Aboriginal and veteran communities. Q Where was the Strategy in relation to progress when you became chair of the MCSP? The concern at the time was that the Strategy was a very difficult program to get off the ground. There had been a change of agencies administering the program, and through no one’s direct fault, there were only a few community action plans coming forward for approval. But the process of trying to get communities to provide the information that we needed from them to be able to run their own programmes took a lot of time and effort. So the focus was initially on trying to increase the number of communities involved in the strategy in a more productive way. Q Do you think the strategy is unique? The Strategy is innovative and I think the Minister and the Government should be commended for it; because it is community based whereas the typical approach by Government when it tries to allocate

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Preventing suicide

funds to a particular area or a particular issue tends to be the bureaucratic model. This is where money is allocated to a government department or other agency and they then deliver a program that they hope will fix the problem. This Strategy is innovative because it’s driven by the community from the ground up and that in itself will make the program much more effective and focused over the longer term by giving the community the capacity to deal with its own problems.

together, there has been an enormous amount of work done at community level. Bringing all that information forward for consideration and approval by the Council and the Minister has been a monumental amount of work that should be acknowledged because without it we would not have been able to go down the path of putting together a programme that is based on what the community can do to help itself.

Q Do you think the Strategy is succeeding? It is hard to say right now because a large part of the time so far has been spent on community consultation and we are now in the implementation phase. So you can’t say with your hand on your heart that everything is working right now, but there are some amazing good news stories coming to our attention which would seem to suggest that we are gaining some traction. What we are dealing with here, is not just suicide, particularly in some of the remote regions, where there are a whole lot of other issues of alcohol and drug abuse, physical and sexual abuse and family violence. In these circumstances, suicide is the tip of a very ugly iceberg involving a whole range of other issues that are going on in the community. To a certain extent this applies to the metropolitan region as well. There are bigger and deeper problems in the community that need to be addressed, so I don’t think you can judge immediately if there is likely to be an instant turn around in the rate of suicide. It is becoming clear that the Strategy is making a difference and has enormous community support where it is being implemented but this is a three to five year journey so we need to be patient and give the community all the support that we can to stem the tide of suicide. It is a unique program with a strong prospect of success. Q Is there anything else you would like to add? I am most grateful for the work done by CentreCare as the administrators of the Strategy, by the Mental Health Commission, by the community coordinators and all the volunteers out there in the different communities.

To date, 37 Community Action Plans (CAPs) have been approved covering more than 250 individual locations, 7 state-wide plans and at-risk groups such as young men, people in prison and Aboriginal communities. It is anticipated that there will be approximately 60 CAPs approved under the strategy involving around 300 localities around the State. 154 agencies have pledged to undertake suicide prevention activities and training for staff and members, including playgroups, schools, youth services and community groups. The CAP and agency involvement are unique features which build community and employer engagement in suicide prevention. The Strategy is an important component of work of the Mental Health Commission in suicide prevention. For more information about the Strategy visit or

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Older people

Picasso’s colours The use of art in dementia care has been proven to be a valuable tool in enriching the lives of people with dementia. Amana Living’s Residential Care Centres deliver a diverse range of services and accommodation to over 800 seniors. As part of their Enrichment Program, Amana Living developed Project Picasso for those residents with late stage dementia. Research indicates that people with dementia find it difficult to communicate, forgetting the words they need and losing the concepts for the things they wish to talk about. This can lead to frustration, agitation and disorientation. The use of art can provide a medium for people with dementia to express themselves and communicate their needs and who they are. Project Picasso began as a pilot to provide art creation opportunities for residents at one of Amana Living’s Residential Care Centre. Due to its success, the project was expanded to 12 other Centres. Project Picasso culminated in a major public exhibition, which recognised the artists and their lives. This was also an enriching experience for the individual participants. 240 pieces of artwork were selected, framed and hung in the exhibition held at Christ Church Grammar School, representing the work of more

Harry Venville at Amana Living

than 100 artists. Over 60 pieces of artwork were sold, raising up to $1,600, which will be invested into the project in 2013, adding an important element of sustainability. This large scale success ensured Project Picasso’s exhibition will remain an annual event in the growing suite of enrichment activities in the Amana Living calendar. Individual Amana Living sites are continuing to offer small-scale or one-on-one art sessions to residents with dementia. Art has been used for many years to encourage activity and communication but has never been undertaken for people with late stage dementia. Alzheimer’s Australia commented that the project was groundbreaking, created a sense of occasion and excitement, encouraged broader interaction amongst residents and captured community attention by fostering community connection and engagement. Each Amana Living site was equipped with an art kit, containing all the elements required for the project, such as paper, brushes, paints and a small fund to pay for framing. They held weekly 1.5-hour art sessions over six weeks. Some families donated frames, while others were recycled from existing Amana Living art. For more information about the project contact Kylie Mathieson at Amana Living on 9424 6335.

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National partnerships

National Experts Visit Perth Professors Bruce Tonge and Stewart Einfeld from Monash University, Melbourne facilitated a clinical workshop in Perth in August to discuss cases of children with complex mental health and developmental needs. Meeting in Perth for the first time, various psychiatrists, paediatricians, clinical psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists and other allied health professionals from Child and Adolescent Mental Health, the Department for Child Protection, the Disability Services Commission, Child Development Services and the Autism Association, reviewed a number of case examples of children with complex needs, and discussed better case management strategies. Every year nearly 15,000 children and young people up to 25 years are treated in WA community based and specialised mental health services. Approximately five per cent of children have problems of sufficient severity and complexity that multiple specialist services are required to manage their ongoing mental health and developmental issues. Many families have expressed frustration at the lack of coordination between agencies and frustration at the limited choice and nature of long term care. These frustrations are often shared by clinicians. Many of the children described at the conference had most or all of the following issues: difficulty sleeping at night, difficulty attending school, poor language, extreme and aggressive behaviour, fearful and

anxious behaviour, sensitivities to noise, touch and light, seizures or other neurological complications, self harm or suicide ideation, family health issues, family mental health issues and sibling conflicts. Professors Tonge and Einfeld facilitated discussions between clinicians to practice a probing and inquisitive mindset where all aspects of the child’s life were thoughtfully considered and assessed. A Biological-Psychological-Social model was presented, in which a holistic assessment of the child’s situation is made to better inform a therapeutic management plan. They also discussed different collaborative and multi-disciplinary approaches to improve outcomes for children and families. This event provided mental health professionals with an opportunity to present and consider complex cases with input from a range of professions and service providers. It was an excellent example of how clinicians from a variety of backgrounds can work together to improve outcomes for the children with mental illness and their families. For further information parents with older children can link with their School Health services or visit their GP to ask about a referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.

Mental Health Green Bill 2012 The green Mental Health Bill 2012 was tabled in Parliament on 8 November 2012. This Bill incorporates feedback from over 1,200 submissions on the draft Bill released in 2011, as well as comments from the state-wide forums attended by nearly 600 people. The green Bill has been prepared for public comment but it does not necessarily represent the Government’s settled position. Comments on the green Mental Health Bill 2012 can be made until 28 February 2013. For more information visit the Mental Health Commission website at

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Sustainable workforce

Demystifying Mental Health - A strategy for your team’s mental health

According to the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, approximately 45 per cent of Australians aged 16–85 years will experience a common mental health-related condition in their lifetime. In recognition of Mental Health Week, the Institute of Public Administration Australia presented a seminar that provided people across the public and community services ways to identify and approach mental illness in the workplace. The seminar was attended by approximately 90 people representing a wide variety of services including the Mental Health Commission, WA Police, Edith Cowan University, the Department of Corrective Services, and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. Mental Health Commission staff, Commissioner Eddie Bartnik and Consumer Advisor Louise Howe along with Psychologists Angela Martinovich and Dorothy Lavell presented strategies for managing a team members’ mental health, provided ways to identify mental illness in the workplace and highlighted the clear productivity imperative of a healthy workforce. Commissioner Bartnik said that a healthy, well supported, functional workforce is critical to dealing with mental health. “Employers can make a difference in the workplace by having plans that help promote and maintain good mental health amongst their

Angela Marinovich, Louise Howe and Dorothy Lavell

In recognition of Mental Health Week, the Institute of Public Administration Australia, presented a seminar that provided leaders from all levels within the public sector and community services ways to identify and approach mental illness in the workplace. employees. They can invest in employee assistance programs, promote prevention of mental health problems and be inclusive of people with mental illness,” Mr Bartnik said. He also explained the Mental Health Commission’s strategic policy Mental Health 2020: Making it Personal and Everybody’s Business in terms of the three key reform directions and nine action areas. “A holistic person centred approach is fundamental to building good mental health and enriching community life. A mentally healthy workplace protects and empowers people to seek help for the benefit of the individual, organisation and the community. That is why the Mental Health Commission is funding a number of organisations across the State which work collaboratively to assist workplaces and individuals reduce the impact of mental illness in the workplace,” said Mr Bartnik. Louise Howe provided a unique perspective on dealing with her own personal journey of mental health issues and how she used her ‘lived experience’ as a career path. Ms Howe described how her breakdowns became breakthroughs to a happier and healthier life and explained the different roles medication, professional help, self help and mutual help played in enabling

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here to get well and stay well. “You alone can do it but you can’t do it alone approach, is a must for recovery and personal growth. It can be achieved through friendship, mutual help and participation in community,” Ms Howe said. Dorothy Lavell, is the director of a small locally owned company, Oars Across the Waters which has provided services to the West Australian state and local governments since 2005. Dorothy is the confidential ear to many in leadership positions when assisting their teams to flourish, or when the team is in troubled waters and requires specialised counselling assistance. “Recommending an EA program is not helping your staff deal with mental health. Provide support with some scaffolds and let the individual choose from the options,” Ms Lavell said. Angela Martinovich, Clinical Director of her own clinical and forensic psychology practice highlighted the type of support required for dealing with mental health in the workplace and the factors influencing mental health conditions including sleep, family conditions, relationships, work and life events. Angela spoke about proactive measures to achieve a healthy and safe workplace including:

Reform helping change WA Health’s $7 billion capital works program is the biggest infrastructure build in the State’s history. It will deliver approximately 130 projects, including modern hospitals and mental health service facilities. With challenges such as a growing and ageing population, new state-of-the-art hospitals are planned or well underway across the State to meet the needs of the future. For people living in regional and rural WA, this means bringing world class care closer to home. In 2012/13, capital works will continue on the: •

$1.2 billion New Children’s Hospital - completion 2015

$1.7 billion Fiona Stanley Hospital - completion 2013

$239 million on the new State rehabilitation service completion 2013

$325.3 million Southern Inland Health Initiative capital works

$223.9 million Joondalup Health Campus expansion completion 2013

effective policies and procedures

offering flexible working arrangements

developing mentoring and peer support systems

$55.8 million Kalgoorlie Health Campus redevelopment - completion 2014

providing access to counselling services and/or specialist support groups

$360.2 million Midland Health Campus - completion 2015

developing a greater understanding through education and training

$117.9 million Busselton Health Campus - completion 2014

$22.2 million Remote Indigenous Health Clinic Project.

• • •

ensuring safe and healthy work conditions.

The seminar concluded with questions directed to the panel from the audience. If you have any questions or need assistance regarding mental health in your organisation, please contact the Mental Health Commission on 6272 1200 or visit

The construction of a new Albany Health Campus, as well as a new PathWest Centre and Cancer Centre Stage 2 at the QEII Medical Centre will also be completed in 2012/13, and the planning will continue on the Karratha Health Campus and Royal Perth Hospital redevelopment. For more information and for regular updates visit

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Children and youth

Promoting healthy minds in students Good mental health in childhood lays the foundations for the future. Research clearly shows that children who are mentally healthy are better able to meet life’s challenges. They are also better learners and have stronger relationships. The good news is that most Australian children experience good mental health. There are also concrete positive steps that can be taken to help enhance the mental health and wellbeing of children who may be experiencing mental health difficulties. The National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing shows that 1 in 7 school age children has a mental health difficulty such as anxiety, depression, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). As such, education settings can play a crucial role in developing children’s social and emotional skills. They can help children with making friends, coping with ups and downs and managing emotions and behaviour. Schools can act as a safety net and assist in protecting children from circumstances that may permanently affect their learning and development, and their mental health and wellbeing. Evidence shows that a proactive approach to developing children’s social and emotional skills is highly effective in developing mentally healthy children who have stronger relationships, are better able to deal with life long challenges, and succeed academically. A mentally healthy child is one who realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. There is growing awareness that promoting mentally healthy children has significant outcomes not only in terms of their wellbeing but also in educational achievement. KidsMatter Primary is an alliance between health and education that provides a coordinating mental health and wellbeing framework for primary schools. It uses a whole-setting approach to unite all the people who influence children’s mental health and wellbeing, including staff, families, relevant agencies and the wider community. It is effective because it bridges a child’s home and education settings. KidsMatter was developed in collaboration with beyondblue, the Australian Psychological Society,

Principals Australia Institute, with funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and beyondblue. A pilot program was conducted between 2007 and 2008, covering schools various government, private and independent schools. Benefits for students included increased positive mental health, such as optimism and coping, reduced mental health difficulties such as emotional symptoms, hyperactivity, conduct problems and peer difficulties and improvements in behaviour and

motivation for students already experiencing mental health challenges. To date more than 900 schools across Australia have adopted KidsMatter Primary with 175 metropolitan and regional schools in WA. More than 900 schools have adopted KidsMatter Primary, with the Australian Government funding a national roll out to a total of 2000 schools by 2014. There are currently 175 schools involved throughout metropolitan, rural and remote WA. For more information contact Stephen Macdonald, WA Coordinator at or visit

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Saving lives at Freedom Centre This year’s Mental Health Good Outcomes WA Equal Opportunity Commission Award for Human Rights, Equity and Diversity in mental health was awarded to the Freedom Centre. The Freedom Centre is a youth owned drop-in space for young people under the age of 26 who are of diverse sexuality, sex and/or gender (DSSG). The Freedom Centre, which is funded by the Mental Health Commission under the auspices of the WA Aids Council, runs peer focused courses, events and activities, and provides a supportive social space for WA’s youth to meet new people, chat, hang out, get support and find information on a range of issues. The Centre has been coordinated for over five years by Dani Wright who became a paid employee after volunteering for two years. Now with a dedicated team of volunteers and peer educators, Dani plays a key role in coordinating and delivering the Freedom Centre’s services to young people and their families. Dani and her team have coordinated numerous art projects, trained dozens of Freedom Centre volunteers, facilitated hundreds of drop-in sessions, and trained and presented to hundreds of professionals in health, mental health, sexual health, and youth and education sectors. The Freedom Centre has also worked with Curtin University’s WA Centre for Health Promotion Research to develop a qualitative Evaluation Framework to monitor, refine and document the benefits of their peer support and information services in providing early intervention and prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in WA. Dani believes sexuality and gender are important aspects of who we are and our overall wellbeing. “I love the peer based approach that Freedom Centre uses as I believe that we all have unique perspectives and experiences. The best way to reduce our sense of isolation around issues that we’re struggling with is to find others who are going through similar things, share stories and support each other,” she said. The Freedom Centre’s target population experience poor mental health at disproportionately higher rates than the general population due to discrimination and marginalisation. Research conducted by Suicide

Prevention Australia states DSSG people are three to 14 times more likely to have attempted suicide than their heterosexual peers. “In order to improve our mental wellbeing we all need culturally appropriate services that understand our experiences and don’t marginalise us,” Dani said. The Freedom Centre works with young people on issues around help-seeking, conflict resolution, healthy relationships and participation in the community. It helps builds their self-esteem and encourages them to feel good about who they are in an environment where they are safe to be themselves. Dani feels that helping young people who are feeling alone with the issues they are facing and assisting them in creating positive networks with their peers is where her work comes to life. “Each individual who I’ve helped find support, empower themselves and improve their mental health are my biggest achievements,” Dani enthused. For many young people, the Freedom Centre has changed their lives for the better, giving them the confidence and liberation they need to be all they want to be. For more information visit or email

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Good Outcomes Awards

Winning DAYS

This year’s Good Outcomes Award winner for improved mental health outcomes delivered in partnership with drug and alcohol services is the Drug and Alcohol Youth Service (DAYS). Partnered with the Drug and Alcohol Office (DAO) and Mission Australia, this service provides counselling and support for young people between the ages of 12 and 19 in the form of community based intervention, drug and alcohol awareness, life skills development, withdrawal and respite services, home rehabilitation services, recreation programs and psychotherapy and medical assessment. Staffed by drug and alcohol workers, Aboriginal and youth mentors, nurses, doctors, and clinical psychologists, the service also gives young people access to educational and exercise programs, and offers art, music and drama therapies. Based in East Perth, the service aims to provide the young people of Western Australia with a wideranging, single point of access to alcohol and other drug mental health treatment, with an emphasis on clients who experience co-morbid issues. Mission Australia Operations Manager, Peta Nordberg, believes today’s adolescents are faced with a constantly changing world where everything is so readily accessible, particularly in terms of substances. “One in four young people have a mental health issue and the number of people who come to our service and we diagnose as co-morbid is too high,” she said. According to DAO, alcohol is one of the most commonly used drugs in Australia, and is a large

problem amongst youth. “Alcohol is the biggest issue. When young people come in, we ask them to tell us about their using history and they are asked to identify their substance of choice, 53 per cent of them say it’s alcohol,” Ms Nordberg said. To improve outcomes for young people with mental health problems it is imperative that youth focused drug and alcohol treatment services are able to provide necessary and appropriate support. With solid expertise and programs in residential youth work, clinical psychology, clinical nursing, Aboriginal mentoring, music mentoring, medicine, neuropsychology and drug and alcohol counselling, the youth who have engaged with DAYS’ programs have benefitted from the help they’ve received. DAYS is committed to learning and growing the area of mental health. Its shared care and training opportunities allow staff to build their knowledge and expertise to further support young people with mental illness and substance abuse issues. Each of the residential drug and alcohol youth workers are trained in suicide prevention and mental health first aid. “At DAYS, youth are valued as a resource, not typecast as a problem” said Ms Nordberg.

“We need to commit to our youth. They are our leaders of tomorrow and if we don’t help them and we don’t provide for them, then issues seen in young people get carried into adulthood.” “If we didn’t have DAYS and services like DAYS, where would young people with substance issues and addiction go? Without these services and help they may not be able to get to a point where they’re substance free and these issues will just blow up,” Ms Nordberg concluded.

Drug and Alcohol Youth Service team with Elayne Clarke, Director of Clinical Services, Hollywood Hospital

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Good Outcomes Awards

Treatments and supports are centred on each young person and their own specific needs. From the point of referral they are included and consulted on how they would like to connect with the supports and what treatment pathway they hope to follow.

Referrals can be made through the duty system Monday – Friday on 1300 651 374. For Parent Drug Information Service (PDIA) phone 9442 5050.

As a worthy winner of the Hollywood Private Hospital Award for improved mental health outcomes delivered in partnership with drug and alcohol services, DAYS ensures the younger generation’s voice is heard and that they have control over their own treatment. Through its programs and services, DAYS works to positively influence the environment young people, their families and care givers surround themselves in. For more information contact DAYS on 9222 6300 or visit

Youth at DAYS

Sponsor of 2012 Mental Health Good Outcomes Awards McCusker Alzheimer’s Research Foundation “Our vision is for a world in which Alzheimer’s disease no longer exists.” Background: Almost 280,000 Australians (25,000 Western Australians) currently live with dementia. Without a significant medical breakthrough, this will soar to almost 1 million Australians by 2050. Each week, there are 1,600 new cases of dementia in Australia. This is expected to grow to 7,400 by 2050. Age is the biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia) and one in four people over the age of 85 has dementia. Dementia is the third leading cause of death in Australia, after heart disease and stroke. As yet there is no cure and little effective treatment. Research shows that brain changes can be observed 10 – 20 years before symptoms manifest. This may explain why most treatments have limited impact – the brain is already severely damaged. Progress is being made through research developing a blood test for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease. This would allow lifestyle changes to be implemented and treatment administered before symptoms appear and irreversible brain damage occurs. Research is severely underfunded, yet there is scope for greatly improved quality of life for affected individuals as well as huge savings through research that determines the cause, prevention and better care of dementia. About $1 is spent on research for each $342 of the total costs of dementia (0.29%). Prevention: Current Alzheimer’s disease research indicates that the onset of the disease may be delayed or prevented by changes to health and lifestyle choices. Some of these preventive factors include having a healthy diet, promoting physical and cognitive (brain) activity, and controlling cardiovascular risk factors, including diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Professor Ralph Martins and his team are conducting ground breaking research and undertaking internationally acclaimed clinical trials. For more information please contact us: Jenny Gill, Executive Manager McCusker Alzheimer’s Research Foundation Tel: 09 9347 4200 Email:

Suite 22, Hollywood Medical Centre 85 Monash Avenue, Nedlands WA 6009

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Stokes Review The report of the review of the admission and discharge practises in public mental health services in WA, undertaken by Professor Bryant Stokes, was released by the Minister for Mental Health on 14 November 2012. Professor Stokes’ Review was the culmination of extensive research, including interviews with 891 individuals, the review of data on suicide, hundreds of patient documents and 29 written submissions. Reviewing and improving services aligns with the strategic policy of Mental Health 2020: Making it personal and everybody’s business and the Government is committed to ensuring that services within the sector are comprehensive and effective. In response to the Review, the Mental Health Commission and the Department of Health are currently developing an implementation plan for the government approved recommendations from the Report. The Commissioner for Mental Health and Director General of the Department of Health will have the lead roles as Executive Sponsors for the implementation of the recommendations. Project management groups and an overarching Implementation Partnership Group will be established to ensure the implementation is effectively coordinated. The Implementation Partnership Group ‘s membership will comprise of a range of sector representatives, including consumers and carers, WA Association for Mental Health and key agencies. In addition, the Mental Health Commission and Department of Health are jointly developing a 2 year clinical services plan and during 2013 the Commission, through a consultative process, will be developing a comprehensive 10 year mental health services plan. This plan will provide further opportunity to ensure that the needs of people with mental illness are fully considered. It will be the blueprint for the mental health system and will address the services, supports and infrastructure required to ensure mental health reform occurs.

Government of Western Australia Mental Health Commission

Review of the admission or referral to and the discharge and transfer practices of public mental health facilities/services in Western Australia Professor Bryant Stokes, AM July 2012

system, a process that is already well underway with significant new investment in mental health services. We will continue working with the Commonwealth Government to ensure services are coordinated as the care and support of people with mental illness and/or mental health problems is shared between the State and Commonwealth Governments. The Full Report, Terms of Reference, Executive Summary, Recommendations and Government Response are available on the Commission’s website at

The Government has recognised the need for additional investment to meet the growing needs of the community and is focused on building a modern, comprehensive and contemporary mental health

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Preventing suicide

Empowering Young People who are Homeless In 2011, YACWA was funded by the One Life Suicide Prevention Strategy to consult and develop a plan for the community to tackle the prevention of suicide among homeless young people. If you’ve worked in the youth sector or with homeless young people you know the stresses, immediacy and complexity of issues that come up for young people and the services that support them. Up to 80 per cent of homeless young people have a mental health issue (National Youth Commission, 2008) and 72 per cent have a significantly higher propensity to self harm and suicide ideation than young people who are not homeless. The Youth Affairs Council of WA (YACWA) Youth Futures WA staff participating in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training consultation to strategically tackle suicide prevention among homeless young people was rolled out in stages youth workers received training throughout WA. The across support services, with homeless young people feedback was then collated to inform the approach and the wider community. The planning included and direction of a second Community Action Plan to one-on-one consultations, a community forum, peer act on these findings. projects, training delivery and two surveys. Over Effective and responsive engagement with homeless 100 stakeholders have been engaged and potential young people is a priority. YACWA are planning to partners identified to support implementation of the directly support and employ a young person who is Community Action Plan. homeless or has experienced homelessness to assist Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) with the project, through a peer support model. was delivered to the mental health sector across They will continue to utilise social media to raise the state including the Kimberley, Albany and three awareness and will also develop a suicide prevention metropolitan courses. The demand and response to online resource, guidelines and research, as well as this training was incredibly positive and its impact self care tools for youth workers. will have ongoing benefits to young people that are For updates about the project call 9227 5440 or email homeless and the organisations that support them. The initial goal was to train 40 youth workers in ASIST, however, due to the overwhelming demand, over 100 v 19 v Head2Head - Summer 2012/3 - Celebrate Connect Grow v

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse

Employee of the year As a social worker at ISHAR Multicultural Women’s Health Centre, Ruth Sims is driving the changes in mental health and wellbeing of women of all ages and cultural backgrounds. Her leadership and dedication has been nothing less than inspirational. health, when I work with these women and see how they can take control of their lives and their mental health, that’s my fulfilment!” Ms Sims coordinates both the Perinatal Support Program and the Perinatal Home Visiting Program at ISHAR. With a creative caring approach, insight and the skills of cultural adaptability, she supports the women to address the risk factors of mental illness development. The Perinatal Support Program provides prevention and early intervention skills for expecting women. The women meet weekly at ISHAR at an eight-week program to learn new skills, share existing shills and life stories, as well as to have fun. These are women who are giving birth in another country, often for the first time, and are at risk of experiencing a range of mental health issues associated with childbirth and motherhood. The Perinatal Home Visiting Service provides in-home support to perinatal women who

Ruth Sims

Ms Sims arrived in Australia from Liberia in 2001 as a humanitarian refugee. She was born in Liberia where she worked as a teacher and school principal in her country. After arriving in WA, Ms Sims decided to expand her skills with a degree in social work. She also completed a Masters Degree in Social Work Counselling which was when she first became interested in the mental health field. After being employed by ISHAR, Ms Sims began assisting culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) women with post-traumatic stress and post-natal depression. Feeling she could relate to these women, Ms Sims began engaging with them through their personal stories and by following their recovery. “ISHAR changed my mind and understanding of mental health, Ms Sims said. “I started working with women to help them move ahead in life, and that’s really what gave me satisfaction. When I work for multicultural mental

Ruth Sims with Dr Michael Stanford, St John of God Health Care

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Children and youth

are not yet ready to be part of a group program. Ms Sims’ work doesn’t stop at ISHAR. She is also a consultant to State and Federal Departments, President of the West African Women’s Group, Vice Chairperson of the African Community, Vice Chairperson of the African Women’s Council of Australia, Elder of the Liberian Community Association of Western Australia, and an active member of many community organisations including the African Community and the Ethnic Community Council of WA. Working tirelessly with individuals and communities and at a systemic level, her work encourages social inclusion and cohesion, promotes and celebrates cultural diversity throughout the community.

As a worthy winner of the Employee of the Year Award, Ms Sims modestly said she never expected to be granted such an honour. “I am fulfilled by being able to help women in need and getting paid to do a good job, so being recognised for my work was an absolute privilege. There are so many hard working people in the community and I am just so thankful for being nominated let alone winning.” ISHAR Multicultural Women’s Health Centre is located in Mirrabooka Library Building. For more information email or call 9345 5335.

Smile and handle with care Mental Health Carers Arafmi WA runs SMILES program designed for children aged 8-12 years old who have a parent and/or siblings experiencing mental health problems. SMILES is run over two days and aims to increase coping skills, knowledge of mental illness, reduction of feelings of isolation, improved self-esteem and development of a new freedom of self expression. The program does this through art, music, interactive exercises, games and problem solving that takes place in a fun filled and supportive atmosphere facilitated by Arafmi counsellors. During the SMILES program young people work through the HANDLE WITH CARE booklet. This booklet is a resource for professional, qualified agency staff and parents to use with young people who have a family member with a mental health issue. The booklet helps the young person to understand the mental illness and helps them explore coping mechanisms.

alone. The time away and change in environment also provides young carers a break where they can enjoy just being kids again. The programs also provide parents who either have mental health issues or are carers with a well-deserved break. For more information or to register you interest in either the SMILES program or HANDLE WITH CARE contact 9427 7100.

The most important element of this program is to encourage peer support and reduce the stigma of mental illness. The SMILES program also provides early intervention for young carers and most of all some fun. Young people have expressed feeling less isolated and alone knowing that there are others who share a similar experience and that they are not v 21 v Head2Head - Summer 2012/3 - Celebrate Connect Grow v


Are you ready to open your closet? Gay and Lesbian Community Services of WA (GLCS) has received funding from the Mental Health Commission to deliver Opening Closets Mental Health Training. The training package was launched during Mental Health Week by the Minister for Mental Health and it complements the GLCS Community Action Plan developed as part of the One Life Suicide Prevention initiative. Opening Closets mental health training aims to improve L to R: Nadine Toussaint, Regan Smith, Davina Morley, Minister access to mental health services by lesbian, gay, bisexual, Morton MLC, Tamara Bezu and Dani Wright transgender and intersec (LGBTI) people by raising awareness of their significant needs. “This training will develop worker capacity to appropriately respond to people while promoting inclusive practice,” said Regan Smith, GLCS Training Officer. “Most frontline services are often not well equipped or confident to deal with some of the unique and complex issues presented by LGBTI people,” she said. Regan is excited by this new venture and is looking forward to delivering the package to a range of mental health workers in government and non-government organisations. Suicide prevention strategies generally encourage people at risk of suicide to seek help from mainstream mental health services and support networks like telephone counselling lines. Research shows that many LGBTI people do not access health services when they need to. Fear of discrimination, stigmatisation and homophobia often act as a barrier for people needing to access mainstream support. Past experiences of poor service delivery, inadequate responses or an unwelcoming environment exacerbate feelings of worthlessness. The Opening Closets Mental Health Training aims to promote inclusive practice through the development of skills and capacity of workers to respond appropriately, resulting in improved access to mental health services by LGBTI people. By understanding the societal impacts of entrenched homophobia and stigma on the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTI people, workers will be able to build upon their existing skills to develop ‘best practice’ in delivering mental health strategies for LGBTI people. The three hour training is offered at no charge to frontline mental health workers in both government and community organisations. Telephone and crisis counsellors are also encouraged to attend. “It is crucial that mental health workers are able to work confidently, inclusively and positively around issues of sexuality and gender diversity in order to improve the mental health and well being of LGBTI people. This will also support the needs of LGBTI communities and their families and friends,” said Regan. GLCS will provide support for organisations and staff to develop inclusive policies and practices that best respond to the needs of LGBTI people and communities. GLCS has also produced an very useful resource ‘Diverse Sexuality and Gender Policy Toolkit’ which gives the Top 10 policies with regard to organisations, employees and clients. For more information contact Regan Smith at, phone GLCS on 9427 0272/9486 9855 or visit v 22 v Head2Head v Summer 2012/13 v Celebrate Connect Grow v

Getting help earlier

Alcohol’s effect on developing brain A new Western Australian television campaign which began in November, explains to parents the effect of alcohol on the developing brain of their children. It promotes the national guidelines that no alcohol is the safest choice for under 18 years of age. Mental Health Minister Helen Morton launched the statewide campaign at a ‘Parents, Young People and Alcohol’ forum, along with new statistics about how much alcohol young Western Australians are drinking.

“Overall the survey shows while more students are saying they are not drinking alcohol or the rate of use has declined, those choosing to drink are doing so at increasingly concerning levels,” she said.

“This latest campaign is about giving parents important facts and the latest research about their children and alcohol,” Mrs Morton said.

“Of the students surveyed in 2011, 17.5 per cent said they had consumed alcohol in the last week and of these more than one-third drank at risky levels for single occasion harm.”

“Of those surveyed, fewer young people are choosing to drink. However, those who are drinking are doing so at increasingly riskier levels. A child’s brain develops until their early 20s and they need to be discouraged from starting to drink and drinking harmfully.”

The Alcohol Think Again television campaign will run statewide for four weeks, supported by targeted online digital advertising. It is conducted in partnership with the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research.

The Minister released a bulletin of alcohol trends from the 2011 Australian School Students Alcohol and Drugs Survey which showed of the students who said they had consumed alcohol in the last week, those drinking at risky levels had increased from 20.9 per cent in 1993 to 36.2 per cent in 2011.

The campaign can be viewed at www. For Parent Drug Information Service contact 9442 5050 or 1800 198 024.

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Preventing suicide

Making a difference in the workplace With one in five adult Australians experiencing mental health issues each year, workplaces are becoming an increasingly important sphere to promote mental health. Employees that promote and protect mental health can empower individuals to seek help when they need it most. After all, for many Australians the main part of their day is spent in the workplace. The One Life Suicide Prevention Strategy encourages businesses and organisations to sign up to either a Gold, Silver or Bronze pledge, vowing to raise awareness through workplace training, fund community plans and support employees to become One Life suicide prevention champions. Through the Strategy, the Western Australian community is becoming increasingly engaged and active in reducing stigma by talking openly about mental illness and suicide. During its 2012 Suicide Prevention in the Workplace Conference, part of World Suicide Prevention Week, One Life conducted presentations, workshops and training sessions to hundreds of people from business, government and community organisations. Hosted by ex-ABC sports commentator and One Life Ambassador Glenn Mitchell and introduced by the Commissioner for Mental Health Eddie Bartnik, the Conference delivered a presentation from the award winning keynote speaker, Dr Sally Spencer-Thomas. Dr Spencer-Thomas also ran her Working MindsSuicide Prevention in the Workplace Program training sessions. She noted that demotions, layoffs, firings, humiliating experiences, work failures and losing social connections in the work environment can all trigger suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Dr Spencer Thomas and Minister for Mental Health Helen Morton

“The constant travel interferes with developing solid relationships with family members and the community, even the basic sense of home is altered,” she explained. “The work patterns of FIFO make health behaviours like regular sleep, exercise and good nutrition difficult. The large discretionary income combined with high stress can lead self-medication through alcohol and prescription drug abuse.” To address this issue across the entire workforce, Dr Spencer-Thomas believes there are several steps employers can take to prevent suicide and mental illness. Key strategies include: •

Write policies to formalise the support - building a better, more flexible workplace where suicide prevention is part of the overall culture.

Develop fully engaged workers - people who feel connected to their colleagues and feel they belong to something bigger than themselves contribute more fully.

Reward mental wellness - just as workplaces offer incentive programs for nutrition and fitness, they can also create opportunities and reward efforts to obtain optimal mental health. The Mental Health Commission’s website at www. is a great place to start.

Change the conversation through social marketing - develop a multimedia campaign that lets those

“People’s work identity is often a big part of who they are and when this is threatened in some way, this can effect their sense of self,” she said. The growing numbers of fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers are also becoming increasingly susceptible to the pressures work can have on mental health, which is of particular concern in WA where much of this work takes place. Dr Spencer-Thomas believes FIFO workers’ growing vulnerability to suicide can be related to the nature of the work environment and high rates of substance abuse among the group.

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Justice experiencing difficulties know they are not alone and there are helpful resources available. •

Offer educational programs on mental illness provide workshops that share stories of successful treatment and recovery, offering hope and challenge misconceptions/stigma. Link with mental health service providers for speakers.

Support reintegration and return to work - empower people to be part of the reintegration plan when people have experienced the loss of a loved one through suicide.

Support safe bereavement - when a suicide affects a workplace, employers should not underestimate the impact of this event. Employee Assistance Programs can provide counselling and mental health services and can offer postvention support and follow up for vulnerable people.

“Unrecognised and untreated mental illness costs companies millions of dollars in lost productivity, disability and worker’s compensation claims. And more importantly, it causes an incalculable human toll,” Dr Spencer-Thomas said. “That’s why it is so important to foster a more emotionally healthy workforce.” Whilst over 145 agencies have committed to the One Life Suicide Prevention Strategy, there are still many workplaces where this issue is not yet on the radar. Dr Spencer-Thomas believes most employers value a healthy and safe work environment, but many wait until a tragedy occurs to put suicide prevention strategies in place. “The thinking is, no one has died by suicide here that I know of, so we must not have a problem, and then nothing is done,” she said. “Building a strong business case for suicide prevention is one action that can help employers realise how these behaviours affect their business.” “Those of us in prevention need to help make the connection that suicide prevention relates to this goal, that it’s nothing to be afraid of, and that many things can be done that have low cost and high impact.” If you or someone you know needs help with mental health the best place to start is your local GP. For after hours GP Helpline call 1800 022 222. A range of other mental health professionals can also help. For a detailed list visit the Commission’s website at

Magistrate for WA’s first mental health court Esteemed Magistrate Vicki Stewart has been appointed to head WA’s new dedicated adult mental health court for people with mental health problems and/or mental illness. Expected to begin in early 2013, Mental Health Minister Helen Morton said the new program, the first of its kind in WA, would provide a diversion option in Perth’s magistrate courts by offering enhanced assessment, court liaison and support for people with mental illness. “The mental health court diversion program is a way of putting mental health expertise into the criminal courts to provide a means of diverting offenders with a mental illness into mental health treatment,” Mrs Morton said. Attorney General Michael Mischin welcomed the appointment of Ms Stewart as a Magistrate of the pilot program and said she would bring a high level of skill and experience to the position. “Magistrate Stewart has extensive experience as a judicial officer, and previously as a solicitor and counsel. She has been a Magistrate in the Perth Magistrate’s Court since 2003, and the Drug Court Magistrate since 2008,” Mr Mischin said. “She has wide experience across a range of areas, including working with people with drug addiction and mental health issues, making her well equipped to undertake the work of the new mental health court. I am confident this pilot program is in good hands.” Before her appointment as a Magistrate, Ms Stewart was Director of Legal and Legislative Services at the Department of Health. She also served as a Magistrate in the WA Children’s Court. For more information and regular updates visit Commission’s website at

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Older people

Person centred care A team of aged care professionals are achieving positive results for older people and their families with a committed approach to providing person centred care. mental health services, who provide important ongoing clinical support. Working alongside families is a key component of the work undertaken in the units, especially in planning and management of transitions from the units. The team invests in getting families involved which helps to ensure that the personal preferences and life story of each person can be built into their care. This involvement empowers family members as key partners in the care of their loved ones. For more information visit Southern Cross Care operate two aged care units for older people who need a high level of care and who also experience persistent challenging behaviours associated with dementia or mental illness that cannot safely be managed in a mainstream aged care environment. Frank Prendergast House and Margaret Hubery House each have eight places available and are located in Perth’s southern suburbs. The High Dependency Unit (HDU) model utilises both Commonwealth and State Government funding to enable an appropriate level and type of care for residents. The point of difference for the units is that they cater for a small number of residents, have higher staffing ratios and staff are specifically selected and trained for the role.

The real success of the HDU model is getting people to a point where they are truly stabilised and able to transition back into the community. Janet Farrell, Manager High Dependency and Dementia Care

In addition to training on specific mental health issues, staff are trained to apply a person centred approach, to work with and support families and are supported to develop a full understanding of the journey each resident has undertaken prior to their arrival at the HDU. Janet Farrell, Manager High Dependency and Dementia Care at Southern Cross Care, points out that staff are working in a way that enhances their own level of enjoyment and satisfaction. They can see the positive impact their work is having for the residents and their families. She also points out that the work of the units is enhanced by strong partnerships with

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A good home

Neami wins first mental health subacute contract Western Australia’s mental health sector has reached a major milestone, with Neami winning the tender of $16.5M over five years for the operation of the 22-bed subacute service in Joondalup.

Announcing the service provider, the Minister for Mental Health said the new facility would provide a vital transitional support for both people leaving hospital after acute illness and to prevent admissions into acute hospital care. The service will be available to adults, although support will be provided to some young people over the age of 16 years. “Subacute mental health services are also known as step-up/step-down facilities. They operate in many other places in the world and provide effective support,” said Mrs Morton. “And they are also becoming a reality in Western Australia.” Mrs Morton said the subacute facilities are very important in the journey of recovery from mental illness as they enable people to receive the care and support they need for a short period before returning to their home in the community. “Neami is a non-government mental health organisation that has been providing rehabilitation and recovery support to people with a serious mental illness for the past 25 years,” said Mrs Morton. “They are a suitably skilled and experienced, nationally accredited service provider with over 400

staff that operates 31 sites in Australia, including subacute facilities.” “Neami has an ongoing commitment to community support and recovery, and the opportunity to operate this important mental health facility is a logical fit,” she said. Neami’s CEO, Arthur Papakotsias said Neami is thrilled to have the opportunity to provide services that contribute to the improved mental health and wellbeing of people living with mental illness in Western Australia. “We look forward to working closely with the Mental Health Commission and all service partners,” said Mr Papakotsias. “We are excited to be able to contribute to the sector through the Joondalup subacute facility”. Neami supports people with mental illness using the recovery-focused, strengths based Collaborative Recovery Model (CRM) and the Optimal Health Program which help people develop strategies to recognise symptoms, stay well and maintain their health. The service operator will commence services in March 2013.

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Rural and remote

Flying mental health support Older adults living in regional WA who are experiencing mental health problems will receive extra support thanks to a unique visiting service that extends statewide. A network of psychiatrists with expertise in older adult mental health visit the regions regularly to provide support for local health and aged care professionals, patients and carers. The visiting service is supported by older adult mental health clinicians who have been employed in the regions. The service means that people with mental health problems are now more likely to get appropriate support faster, local GPs can access advice for complex cases and service providers are better coordinated to deliver the support that’s needed. The visiting service fills a gap in many centres where there is limited access to psychiatrists. It is available in the Southwest, Midwest, Pilbara, Wheatbelt, Kimberley, Goldfields and Great Southern. The service is part of the WA Subacute Care Plan 2009 -2013 and funded through the National Partnership Agreement to help shift services from inpatient and hospital settings out to the community closer to where people live.

provided second opinions on complex cases and expert opinion and assistance in many case discussions.

People involved with the program emphasise that this is not a fly in fly out specialist program. Rather, the visiting psychiatrists are a vital part of supporting those who work on the ground to care for patients and their families on an ongoing basis.

Down in Esperance on the south coast, visiting psychiatrist Dr Mathew Samuel says that the partnership with local agencies has helped increase the support, knowledge and skills base related to older age mental health.

Sue Hardy is Clinical Nurse Specialist for older adult mental health at the Wheatbelt Mental Health Service, and has worked with psychogeriatrician Dr Sam Restifo to set up the visiting service in her region. Sue praises the benefits “local aged care facilities have been especially grateful for the support in managing clients with challenging behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia”.

A senior social worker has been trained in assessment for old age psychiatry, three other staff have been trained to use assessment tools, the relationship between GPs and the mental health service has been strengthened, access to Fremantle Hospital has improved for patients who need admission, and an indigenous worker is now involved in dementia care in the Aboriginal community.

“We have been able to reduce the number of elderly people being transferred to the metro area to dementia specific units or inpatient psychiatric services and this has reduced the trauma for the client, their family and staff at the facilities who are providing care.”

This unique visiting service will continue to spearhead efforts to improve access to mental health for older adults living in regional areas of our state.

Sue said that Dr Restifo had also contributed greatly by educating GPs about the ‘agitated elderly’,

L to R: Luke Mettner, Sue Hardy, Brenden Nichols and Gail Hogan Members of the Wheatbelt Mental Health team in Northam

More than 50 new and expanded subacute care services have been delivered, many of them in regional WA.

For further information contact Wheatbelt Mental Health Service on 9621 0999 or Esperance Mental Health Unit on 9071 0444.

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National partnerships

Lets talk about recovery The inaugrual National Mental Health Recovery Forum 2012 held in June 2012 provided a good vehicle to inform participants and empower them to ask the right questions. 27 representatives from Western Australia attended the forum in Melbourne out of which, 18 carers and consumers were sponsored by the Mental Health Commission. It was heartening to see the keen interest in mental health recovery, evident from how the convention rooms were packed out over the two-day program, with organisers having to provide more chairs to accommodate day registrants spilling into the rear of the rooms. The 400 or so participants included people and experts with lived experience, carers and advocates, community support providers, clinicians, policy developers and planners.

Many speakers promoted the recognition of people with lived experience and the development of peer support as a profession. Common themes included the need for shared decision making and systemlevel governance, and the need to strengthen natural supports in the community for people to live well in their recovery journey. It was interesting to note that the definition of and the philosophy behind mental health recovery were consistent, thus unambiguous, throughout the forum. With regards to diverse groups, Dr Ken Thompson said that people supporting recovery should embrace diversity by being culturally sensitive and spiritually aware. Dr Roderick McKay, Chief of the Faculty of Psychiatry of Old Age RANZCP, shared his experience in the development of a model of care for NSW acute mental health inpatient units for older people which incorporated a ‘person-centred and recoveryfocused bio-psychological philosophy of care’. Of note, various speakers promoted the concept of recognising people with mental illness as citizens, to be liberated from harm, oppression, discrimination and the loss of dignity and rights. Professor Mike Slade, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, UK, identified four domains in his analysis of best international practice in supporting recovery, including:

Over 30 national and international speakers covered a wide range of current topics around mental health recovery. Keynote speaker Dr Ken Thompson, Chief Medical Officer of Recovery Innovations at the University of Pittsburgh, USA spoke about how psychiatrists should change their role from pathology-focused treatment to motivating people with mental illness to take control of their own lives.

support for personally defined recovery

working relationship

organisational commitment

promoting citizenship.

All the speakers are recognised international experts who are focused on best practice and incorporating recovery at both strategic and operational levels. For more information or to access various publications visit the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council’s website at

“A new form of psychiatry should be invented”, he said. v 29 v Head2Head - Summer 2012/3 - Celebrate Connect Grow v

Perinatal mental health

Mums and Bubs Embrace After waiting to finally meet her little one, the mother’s life changes in an instant; a change so great that life as she has always known it is now turning a new chapter. This experience will raise so many questions, which of course, are going to be scary at first. In response to the growing number of mothers and their need for perinatal support, the Midland Women’s Health Care Place (WMHCP) developed the perinatal depression program recently renamed to Embrace-mums and bubs wellbeing program for women and families who are experiencing stress, anxiety and/or depression during pregnancy and after the birth of a baby. MWHCP Manager Patsy Molloy said post natal depression (PND) still has a stigma attached to it and one of the main things women were nervous about when seeking help was that they would be judged as bad mothers and that their children would be taken away from them. “What we’ve discovered with our PND assessment, counselling and group process is that as women meet and talk about the issues that are affecting them the most, they can actually provide a good support network for each other so they feel a normal part of life again, rather than feeling like they’re stuck and people are going to judge them,” Ms Molloy said. “Without a way to connect with other women and with other people who understand the process, women can feel extremely isolated.”

The journey of motherhood through pregnancy and childbirth is undeniably one of the most significant times in a woman’s life. Wrapped up in the excitement, happiness and long-awaited meeting, it is not uncommon for mothers to also feel a sense of anxiety and worry.

Funded by the Mental Health Commission, the program addresses the feeling of social isolation, insecurity, the myths of motherhood, and the sometimes harsh judgement faced by women as they embark on their journey. The service operates out of Midland, and through a pilot program in Ellenbrook. Announcing the new name during Mental Health Week, Minister for Mental Health, Helen Morton, said the aim of the program is to empower and enable women to take control of and make decisions about their health and lives in a confident and informed way, in an environment which is comfortable and caring. “This new, more contemporary name for the service is more inclusive and responsive to the views of women using the service,” she said. MWHCP manager Patsy Molloy said that at times, women receive so much information on how to be a good mother from friends, family, in-laws and even their own mothers, that it becomes an overwhelming load of conflicting advice. “It’s a learning curve and sometimes it’s just a matter of giving mums a bit of confidence that they’re doing things the right way, as the mum and baby know each other the best.”

Minister Helen Morton, Susie Hall, Naomi Roughsedge and Candice Amonini cut a cake

“Becoming a mother can have a huge impact on a woman’s life and postnatal depression has been with women for longer than it has been socially recognised,” she said.

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Perinatal mental health “What happens is women who feel like they’re capable, out there in the world, they give up work, they’re on maternity leave and this little one comes into their life and all of a sudden everything’s kind of thrown in the air. It’s just such a huge adjustment and it can throw up a lot of new issues in someone’s life.” Postnatal depression can have an effect on women from all walks of life and from any social, economic or cultural background who are adjusting to the process of motherhood.

“Between now and 2020, the largest cohort in the population is going to be zero to four year olds. In terms of growth and in terms of new babies the need for places like this is not going to go away. If the mother feels confident, happy and relaxed then a lot of other things can ease up from there on,” Ms Molloy said. For more information contact the MWHCP on 9250 2221 or email

Sponsor of 2012 Mental Health Good Outcomes Awards

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Services working together

How does your garden grow? From the notorious Brownlie Towers public housing estate comes a new beginning for the residents – a community garden. The estate was originally hailed as a triumph of innovative design and community housing when it was built in the 1970s, but the project failed and the Towers became known as the suicide towers. The transformation of unused land into a thriving community garden and meeting place in a wellknown public housing precinct is the subject of an innovative documentary launched in August by the Department of the Culture and the Arts. An eight-part online series and social media project, followed the course of the Bentley Community Garden from an empty lot to the first harvest, and included personal stories and traditional recipes from the people whose lives had been touched by the gardens. Local filmmaker and producer Rob McGlynn of Crow Media and director Alison James have also sensitively captured the important role a community garden can play in contributing to the mental wellbeing of its members.

bees and garden members’ birthdays have been held and membership has grown. New people are always very welcome and can visit or join the Bentley Community Garden in Nyamup Way, Bentley. Gardeners meet there every Tuesday from 1.00pm to 4.00pm, and members can go to the garden at any time they wish. Busy Bees are held on the first Saturday of every month, from 9.00am til noon. Come along and see how this garden grows!

Erica, fondly known as the Queen of the Garden, openly shares her experience of depression and what the garden has done for her wellbeing. Her story has been an inspiration to others. “I have been working with others in the community for over three years to establish the garden. When the group first met I was very overweight and had never grown my own vegetables,” said Erica. Today, Erica shares her knowledge of gardening and enjoys eating fresh produce in her diet. She has lost a significant amount of weight, her general health has improved and she has also joined a local art and craft group. “When I feel low, I get into the garden or do some painting. I don’t get as depressed and everyone tells me I look great!” The Bentley Community Garden is a place to meet people from all walks of life and many different cultures. Some are new migrants or refugees, some, like Erica, have lived in the area all their lives. It offers the opportunity to connect with others, learn about gardening, grow fresh produce or just sit under the trees and listen to the birds. Community events such as Harmony Day celebrations, long table feasts, busy

The team at the Bentley Community Garden

The SBS online documentary and the stories of some of the inspiring people who have created the Bentley Community Garden can be seen at https://www. For a detailed list of community gardens around WA visit or contact Sue Crock on 0424 607 151.

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Sponsor of 2012 Mental Health Good Outcomes Awards

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10/25/12 3:00 PM

Government of Western Australia Mental Health Commission

Getting help If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, the best place to start is your local GP or call after hours GP Helpline on 1800 022 222. A range of other mental health professionals can also help.

If you feel someone is at risk of harm or in an emergency call 000. For mental health emergency assessment, support and referral call Mental Health Emergency Response Line (MHERL)

MHERL metro - 1300 555 788 MHERL Peel - 1800 676 822 RuralLink - 1800 552 002 Alternatively, go to your nearest public hospital emergency department.

If you need someone to talk to contact:

Crisis Care Helpline 1800 199 008 Kids Help Line - 1800 551 800 Lifeline - 13 11 14 Suicide Call Back Service - 1300 659 467 Youthbeyondblue 1300 224 636 Men’s Line Australia - 1300 78 99 78 headspace - Reach Out - Youth Focus - For a detailed list of mental health services and supports visit the Mental Health Commission’s website at v 34 v Head2Head - Autumn 2012 - Everybody’s Business v

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