Mental Health :: Forums to help open doors for people with mental illness

Living in your own home and an independent lifestyle is something that most people aspire to. For people with mental illness and their families, there are additional challenges to realising this dream.

Jerry Burrong of Ballajura cares for his daughter, “Alice” (not her real name) who was diagnosed with schizophrenia when she was 14. Alice’s journey towards recovery has been difficult, but ultimately rewarding.

“When Alice was initially diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia, she was treated in open and locked wards of a psychiatric hospital,” he said.

“My wife and I took turns to be with Alice daily for a minimum of five hours every day. We did this until she was able to recover, with medication, and live with us again.

“Alice has lived at home full-time since 1996. Her skills have developed so much that she has now recommenced her education.”

Mr Burrong said his family was keenly awaiting the new supported community accommodation for people with mental illness, being developed by the Department of Health.

“As my wife and I are getting older, we really want to ensure that Alice’s future is secure and her home life is stable,” he said.

“The new community supported residential units will foster friendships and develop Alice’s living skills and networks.

“The units will be staffed 24-hours a day and residents’ support plans will be individually tailored, which I feel is important for Alice’s care.”

Mental Health Executive Director Dr Steve Patchett said a wider range of accommodation options for people with mental illness were being made available.

A series of community briefings have been organised by the Department of Health to provide people with more information about the plans.

“Under the State Government?s $173 million investment in mental health, 400 additional community-based places will be provided throughout Western Australia,” he said.

“These developments provide an option between the existing Independent Living Program and psychiatric hostels, which is not currently available.

“As one in five Australians experience mental illness, these homes are much needed.”

“I warmly invite people with mental illness, their families and service providers to come along to the accommodation forums to find out more and ask questions.

The accommodation forums are being held on the following dates:

Mental health consumers forum: 24 August 2007
Mental health carers forum: 27 August 2007
Service providers forum: 7 September 2007

All forums will run from 9am to 12noon at the Theatrette, 189 Royal Street, East Perth.