Authors: St. Vincent’s Hospital, Mental Health Service
Event: 2010 TheMHS Awards
Type of resource: TheMHS Awards
Award state: NSW
Award level: Special Judges Award
Award category: Family/Carer Provided Services
Abstract: “Connections” is a women’s art therapy group catering to female family members in the indigenous population with a history of mental illness. Its main focus is to connect female family members that are otherwise estranged or isolated due to their illness. Cultural history and stories are shared via the art making process in a culturally safe environment that is otherwise unavailable to them. Facilitation towards improved family interpersonal skills and coping with daily stressors is implemented in the aim to reduce the risk of relapse and re-entry into the mental health system. Embracing a holistic and spiritual well-being approach to art, the outcome of this methodology is that it will also help the immediate and extended families of these women, and, as they are indigenous women, those communities’ bonds extend well beyond the norm. Description of Facility/Organisation: Connections were founded in 2001 and was the brainchild of Kaylene Simon, (Aboriginal Mental Health Specialist). Originally a Aboriginal Medical Centre program, Connections was heavily researched from January 1998-2002 by health care workers, who asked community members of the Redfern, Waterloo and Surry Hills areas what they wanted in terms of the creation of ongoing family support networks for people affected with mental illness and/or drug and alcohol dependency. In 2006 South Eastern Sydney Illawarra Area Mental Health Service and St. Vincent’s Hospital took over the program and The City of Sydney provided a safe place for group members to express their feelings through doing creative art. The Community Centre in Chippendale is where the Connections group meets every Monday to share experiences. Other services that regularly attend include workers from Centrelink, Department of Housing, Yallamundi (DOCS) as well as opportunities for the women to access government commission funding for various art-based projects on a local and state level. Staff Numbers 1; Active Clients 35
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