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Lived experience key to mental health course

THE Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia (MIFWA) is rolling out a four week workshop in Midland next month for people living with mental illness.

Hayley Harris said the program would help participants develop a deeper understanding of mental health, learn about its causes and discuss lifestyle strategies.

“It is a peer led program, so the facilitators running the group have both a lived experience of mental illness and have experienced personal recovery,” she said.

“The group helps show people they are not alone in their mental health journey, and while perhaps their family, friends or even professionals do not understand what they are going through, this is a group of people who understand what life looks like when you have a mental illness.

“Through this, understanding and sharing can provide hope that recovery is possible.”

Ms Harris said participants did not need a formal diagnosis to be able to attend.

“The MI recovery program has been evaluated by La Trobe University, demonstrating improvement in participant general wellbeing,” she said.

“Previous studies were showing lower percentages of mental health recovery, however, those studies were focused on people in clinical programs, not community supports.

“Recent studies and research has proven that recovery rates as a whole had previously been underestimated.”

Ms Harris said one in four people experience mental illness in Australia every year with depression and anxiety the most common conditions.

“Common challenges relate to confidence and self esteem,” she said.

“Also the ability to find and maintain work or education, social isolation, financial and housing issues, family and relationship problems.

“A lot of these issues stem from the person with the mental illness not understanding their condition and/or not feeling understood or accepted by the people around them, thus experiencing stigma and confusion.”

Ms Harris said it was vital that people with a lived experience had a say in their recovery.

“This is the key approach at MIFWA and it’s why the programs are led and developed by people with lived experience,” she said.

“The programs are developed with a deep understanding from a personal perspective, and this is why I believe the program works.”

The course starts November 9. For more information call 9237 8900.

BY SARAH BROOKES

About Sarah Brookes

Sarah is an award-winning journalist (2016 WA Media Awards - Best Three Suburban Newspaper Stories) who has covered our Mundaring and Kalamunda editions since 2011. She went to Eastern Hills Senior High School before studying chemistry and biology at university. Staring down a microscope two years into her degree she realised a future in science wasn’t for her – journalism was. Sarah lived in Europe before re-settling in Darlington, where her family has lived for three generations, with her two children. She has worked for various government agencies and Media Monitors. Sarah is a media junkie who loves talkback radio and devours the weekend papers.

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