Authors: AREFMI Victoria and St. Vincent's Mental Health Service (VIC)
Event: 2006 TheMHS Awards
Type of resource: TheMHS Awards
Award state: VIC
Award level: Silver
Award category: Family/ Carer-Run Program or Service
Abstract: Since 2002, a collaboration of agencies has worked to develop a support group for families of people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD is a significant mental illness characterised by: problems with emotions and moods; problems with thinking; problems with self-damaging patterns; and problems in relationships (adapted from: http://www.spectrum-bpd.com/about_bpd.htm). Services for carers were sparse to non-existent. Families were often seen as part of the problem and could not find adequate information, coping strategies, or mutual support for themselves, or to help the person affected. A mutual support framework was developed and monthly meeting held since September 2003, with alternating peer support and psychoeducation /information sessions. Evaluation and response from carers has been extremely positive and appreciative. Many had experienced years of isolation and lack of knowledge. As an innovative project, it addresses the previously unacknowledged needs of this group and is a successful partnership between PDRSS, clinical and specialist services. Description of Facility/Organisation: ARAFEMI Victoria is a community managed, not-for-profit incorporated association and a psychiatric disability support and rehabilitation service. ARAFEMI provides a home based outreach service to people with a psychiatric disability in the Eastern and Northern metropolitan regions of Melbourne; an intensive outreach service in the northern region: a Prevention and Recovery Care Service in partnership with Eastern Health in the Central East region of Melbourne; and a family support program. Support is provided to families of people with mental illness through support and training groups, and a telephone support service. St. Vincent’s Mental Health Service is a publicly funded area mental health service under the auspices of the Sisters of Charity Health Service, Melbourne. It is responsible for the management of an adult area mental health service including a 44 bed acute inpatient service, two community mental health centres, each with approximately 350 registered consumers, a 20 bed community care unit and extended residential rehabilitation service.