Help at hand

March 14, 2018

Marie Salakowski from Wellways (centre), with Debroh Rachele (left) and Kathy Gaylard (right) from Goulburn Valley Area Mental Services.

Wellways Seymour is working to inject a sense of hope into the community’s dislocated — those suffering mental health issues and/or caught in a cycle of drug and alcohol abuse.

In partnership with Goulburn Valley Health, it will stage a free information session on March 22 at the Seymour Club, focusing on those social challenges.

The session follows the most recent National Drug Strategy Household Survey report which said 27 per cent of people who had recently used an illegal drug had also been diagnosed or treated for a mental illness.

Wellways Seymour family support worker Marie Salakowski said she wanted to raise awareness about the service providers available for people who need help.

‘‘We hear around the traps where we work that people really feel there’s no help for family members who may use drugs and alcohol and have a mental illness,’’ she said.

‘‘We know in this community there are a lot of social problems and with the social problems come addiction and mental health problems — they go hand in hand.

‘‘People are very negative about the support, but there is help out there.

‘‘It can be difficult but what we’re trying to do is give people hope, so that it’s not such a bleak outlook.

‘‘These problems are not just about the person with the addiction or illness — it’s also for the families.

‘‘This is really important, because when one person uses a substance and has a mental illness, that person is not the only one who’s affected — there may be parents, partners, siblings, neighbours who are all going to feel the impact of what’s going on.

‘‘So it’s really important we educate people on how to manage it.’’

A major part of the event, Ms Salakowski said, would be a presentation from a woman who has ‘‘lived experience’’ caring for someone with a dual diagnosis.

She is going to speak about what that’s been like for her, and what recovery has been like for her son, which can take many different forms and shapes, Ms Salakowski said.

‘‘We always find when people listen to such a speaker it resonates with them and they can get a lot out of it,’’ she said.

GV Health’s Debroh Rachele said the organisers of the event also hope to erode some of the stigma surrounding mental health.

‘‘Some people don’t want to be seen attending things because of that stigma, especially in smaller rural communities,’’ Ms Rachele said.

‘‘But here you can ask questions you might not normally ask,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s a good environment, a safe, confidential place for people to ask questions in order to be able to link into a service.’’

For more information or to RSVP, phone Goulburn Valley Health Mental Health Services on 58322111 or Wellways on 58228600 by Friday. There are limited places available.

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