The extraordinary events of 2020 have tested the mental health community like never before. We asked for two-minute videos from organisations and individuals so that we could share your stories of resilience, learnings and hope with the wider mental health community.

We specifically asked: How did you reshape your service or personal approach to adapt and change? What has worked well for you during this challenging time?

This project was launched as part of Mental Health Month 2020 and videos will also be shown at our upcoming virtual conference in February!

By sharing our stories, we share our learnings and help to inspire everyone, and in this spirit, some organisations have opted to provide a contact email for any further questions you might have.

Our Learnings from the Ministry of Health NZ
Mental Health and Addiction,
Ministry of Health New Zealand

Robyn Shearer, Deputy-Director General for Mental Health and Addiction, shares the importance of a collaborative response to the challenges of COVID-19 and also taking advantage of opportunities as we move through different phases of the response.

Publishing During Corona

An honest conversation between two good friends. Stephanie and Lumi discuss their experiences of the pandemic, the highs, lows and sideways of it all. They hope that viewers can see the silver lining in the very turbulent times we currently are in. Friendships are an integral part of wellness and staying connected with others helps to break up the loneliness of isolation.

Lumi has just had her second book published during the crisis, which has come with its own set of challenges. The book is a memoir of Lumi’s life with schizophrenia. It aims to educate the reader about mental illness, as well as provide hope that it is possible to have a fulfilling life!

Ruah’s Response – Mark Slattery

The COVID-19 pandemic struck fast and hard. For Ruah Community Services, the impact on clients, particularly those exposed through homelessness and isolation, could have been devastating.

While health advice was screaming ‘stay home’, Ruah and others in the sector were working with people who had no home, but who represented an extremely high-risk cohort in terms of contracting and spreading COVID-19 – and adding enormous pressure to our health system.

Piki Peer Support: Navigating a Hard Year

Peer Supporter Alex Walker discusses his journey as a mental health peer supporter during COVID-19, and how the mutuality between peer supporters and the peers they support formed a strong foundation for “weathering the storm”.

This video story highlights the power of connection. It illustrates how working in the mental health field means believing in authentic and intimate connections. These connections are not only between us and the people we support, but also the people we work alongside.

Virtual Supports for People Wherever They Are

By fast tracking digital capabilities, Flourish Australia’s Community Advisory Council, comprised of people with lived experience of mental health issues, effectively collaborated with Senior Leadership to keep vulnerable people in the community connected in uncertain times and ensured that people continued to receive the support they wanted, wherever they were, as we all work together to adapt to rapidly changing pandemic conditions.

Mental Health Complaints Commissioner Victoria

Throughout COVID-19 the MHCC noticed increased levels of distress expressed by callers, and different kinds of complaints. The top priority of Treasure Jennings, the Mental Health Complaints Commissioner in Victoria, remains safeguarding human rights, and working with consumers, families, carers and services to ensure quality public mental health services in Victoria.

Social Prescribing & Care Under COVID19 – PCCS
Primary and Community Care Services Ltd

The COVID-19 pandemic and isolation measures have been a significant threat to some models of care, limiting the ‘social’ aspect of ‘social prescribing’. Primary & Community Care Services Ltd (PCCS) quickly pushed to deliver services via telephone and online meetings where possible and strived to maintain a safe level of face-to-face connection and psychosocial support between both staff and clients, and between the clients themselves.

PCCS run activity groups such as art, cooking and exercise classes, with some clients attending via internet video and others at their premises with safe distancing, PPE, and other relevant safety measures. They aim to connect clients to groups and activities in the community but with many closing services entirely, they do as much as they can there and in public spaces.

The patience and vigilance of their staff have been key in this time. Staff have also had to space further from the contact and support of their own team on the premises, working from home when rostered, but have really embraced technology to share experience, advice and support with the team.

Imagination. Supports. Opportunity. The Lived Experience.
(video includes captioning)
Meryl McDougal

Twenty80 is Meryl’s NDIS Psychosocial Support Provider. Twenty80 is person-centered, with a strengths-based approach, using the Recovery Model, which encourages participants to have choice and control over their lives. Twenty80 supported her while she created this video about her Lived Experience inspired by the COVID-19 lock-down. This video is an innovative collaborative project, with Rapid Enterprise Development (RED) providing production support – indicative of what can be achieved when we work together.

This video demonstrates what Mental Health Consumers, people living with Psychosocial Disability, like Meryl, can achieve with respectful inclusive support. Meryl initiated and created the video. Twenty80 supported her every step of the way.

Rapid Enterprise Development (RED) supports people living with Disability to turn hobbies and interests into micro-businesses. Meryl is a RED participant. RED filmed, recorded voice-overs and produced this video. RED responded to her ideas and directions practically, with enthusiastic encouragement. With RED input, Meryl’s video concept became a reality.

Mental Health Law Centre – Sarah Toovey

Even before lockdown, Ruah and the MHLC moved swiftly, transforming its whole business operation in response to the COVID risk. While most of their colleagues shifted to home offices, and innovative new measures were implemented for clients in other service areas, Sarah and her team knew they had to stay personally connected with their clients.

Our 2020 in 2 mins
Anxiety NZ

Anxiety NZ has been supporting those with anxiety for 40 years and weren’t about to let a worldwide pandemic or nationwide lockdowns get in the way of being of service in this time of increased need. So, with creative problem-solving and team work they faced challenges and found solutions that have taken them from strength to strength…

Anxiety NZ are excited to share their developments with you in this video “Our 2020 in 2 Mins”.

Livewire Online in 2020

Uniquely Australian, Livewire was developed to support the growing numbers of young people living with illness or disability.

Through both hospital-based workshops and a safe online community, Livewire aims to lift people’s spirits, enhance self-esteem and help build confidence and resilience.

The members in their online community live with a range of health conditions and many have multiple diagnoses, both physical and mental. In providing a safe, inclusive and moderated online environment Livewire are able to offer positive distraction, social connection and peer support when people need it the most.

During the challenges of 2020, Livewire saw an opportunity to amplify what they do in the online program and offer the additional support these teens needed.

Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary Responses MIFWA
Mental Illness Fellowship WA

In this video, Monique Williamson, the CEO of Mental Illness Fellowship of WA (MIFWA) provides an overview of how MIFWA served their community throughout both the COVID-19 pandemic and the other challenges 2020 presented.

2020 reminded MIFWA about the resilience of the people they support. Many people with lived experience live with distress regularly, and their ability to keep the rest of us calm and to teach people how to get through each day at a time and to be there for one another is something the team at MIFWA will always be grateful for.

HelpingMinds: Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary Responses

When the threat of COVID-19 entered Western Australia and the Northern Territory in March, HelpingMinds made the decision to close their physical offices to protect their team and clients. This meant they found new ways to provide services and supports at a critical time for everyone in their community.

At HelpingMinds they worked creatively to transform face-to-face supports to new online initiatives, offering relief and support during lockdown for carers, clients, and anyone else in the community who needed help. Their Health Promotion team provided free 10-minute live videos daily on Facebook, and one of their Aboriginal Engagement Officers started a Monday Motivation challenge, focusing on ways to stay mentally and physically healthy during the pandemic.

HelpingMinds have collected some of their favourite moments from their videos to share with you.

Magic of Yakkalla on the Central Coast

The video highlights Yakkalla, one of the services that Central Coast ARAFMI has promoted to provide mental health and well-being for over 40 years, with particular focus on addressing psychosocial disabilities for whole families.

Today, Yakkalla is a member-driven community that provides a place for people to go, to hang out without judgment. The small team of staff and volunteers are dedicated to working alongside members to provide practical support and connect people to other services or inclusive opportunities.

With a working kitchen providing affordable meals, and a community garden, they hold regular workshops from self-esteem to art therapy and also have their own band, The Yakkallas.

In March 2020 with the impact of COVID-19 and the challenge of closure of their centre, social connection remained their priority, as well as supporting people to keep well and safe. The video shows how Yakkalla have achieved the ability to reopen.

Peace in our Aloneness
Paula Hanlon

Peace in Our Aloneness is sharing of creativity to ease the burdens, loneliness and anxieties of 2020. The sharing of our creative selves is a special connection that reaches our emotions and connects our souls. People are searching for this connection and being able to share something so personal is a peak of human experience.

Ruah’s Response – Michelle Twigger

The COVID-19 pandemic struck fast and hard. For Ruah Community Services, the impact on clients, particularly those exposed through homelessness and isolation, could have been devastating.

Michelle continued to provide services alongside her colleagues, creating new and innovative ways to spark connection for vulnerable people who were facing a period of increased stress and isolation.

RedTIMBA Wardrobe Project
This is my Brave Australia (TIMBA)
ABC News

Due to COVID-19 restrictions TIMBA was not able to continue with their usual activities which are mainly public events. As a result, they partnered with another mental health organisation, Red Flag Canberra, to start the RedTIMBA Wardrobe Project.

Through support from Good360 Australia and Big W, the project had access to $125,000 worth of donated NEW clothing. The aim was to lift the mental health and wellbeing of members of the community who were being adversely affected by COVID-19 by donating NEW adult and children’s clothing to them.

So far the RedTIMBA Wardrobe Project has donated $100,000 worth of clothing, shoes, blankets, toiletries and sanitary items to mental health facility residents across Canberra, Domestic Violence refuges, and bush fire affected communities on the south coast of NSW. They also run a monthly FREE clothes market at Kanangra Court high density housing project for residents who are economically disadvantaged, affected by addiction or mental health issues or recently released from incarceration. The video story shows TIMBA’s work there.

National Telehealth Service COVID response in Aotearoa
Homecare Medical

The New Zealand Government-funded National Telehealth Service (run by Homecare Medical) offers 24×7 free health and mental health support across seven digital channels.

The National Telehealth Service (NTS) COVID-19 response began on 7 February with the establishment of a dedicated phone service available 24/7 to a central front door for COVID-19 related health advice and information to the public. Today their response also includes Self Isolation / Managed Isolation / Quarantine Health, Welfare and Compliance Checks and running a Clinician Advice Line.

The Health line COVID-19 number has been widely promoted in all Ministry of Health, media and wider Government communications about COVID-19. And the work has been unprecedented – managing circa 2,000 contacts per day, 150 languages 24/7, at peak an additional 771 additional staff on board.

In addition, the 1737 Need to talk? national mental health helpline and the other NTS mental health and addictions services have been well-placed and resourced to respond to the increased psychosocial needs as they unfold. In April, contacts into their team were above pre-lockdown levels (up ~10%) and 2019 volumes for the same period (up 35%). The number of unique service users remains well above the 12-month average and many are new users of the service – with new levels of personal anxiety and psychosocial needs.

But this video isn’t about the numbers, it is about the important and privileged role they play in supporting people to access a path to wellness – taha tinana, taha hinengaro, taha whanau, and taha wairua [physical, mental, spiritual, and family wellbeing].

Unwavering Psychosocial Disability Support Despite Pandemic Restrictions
SA Health Foundation

SA Hope Foundation is a registered NDIS service provider offering a range of flexible and tailored services to bring people with disability a hope by building their capacity, living a life based on their strengths, rights and choices.

Their unwavering  support for this Australian family during the Covid-19 restrictions has given them hope and a future that looks brighter.