Authors: Sally Gibson and Maria Katsonis, VIC
Event: 2011 TheMHS Conference
Subject: SERVICE-USER, CRIMINAL JUSTICE, FORENSIC, Open Minds, workplace
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: Open Minds is a volunteer peer-directed group for Victorian Public Service employees with mental illness or caring for someone with mental illness. Established in 2010, Open Minds provides a range of programs for mental health consumers, carers and people with an interest in mental health issues. Open Minds has experienced rapid growth in response to demand from consumers, carers and managers who are looking to do more than simply send staff to employee assistance programs. A recent evaluation has found that Open Minds has had a positive impact on the attitudes, behaviour and well-being of VPS employees and has increased awareness and understanding and awareness of mental health in the workplace. Additionally Open Minds has enabled program participants to talk more confidently and openly with their colleagues about their mental health issues. Participants also reported feeling less isolated after becoming better connected to their peers and suitable support services. For many employees, Open Minds has provided their first opportunity to talk about mental health in the workplace and seek assistance.The program has demonstrated the power of peers and the voice of consumers and carers which has provided credibility and authenticity.