Authors: Illawarra Institute for Mental Health (University of Wollongong) and NSW Consumer Advisory Group
Event: 2009 TheMHS Awards
Type of resource: TheMHS Awards
Award state: NSW
Award level: Winner
Award category: Mental Health Promotion or Mental Illness Prevention Program or Project
Abstract: The two-year “Flourish Program”, supported by Rotary Health, combines recovery self-help principles, positive psychology interventions to build resilience and promotion health with a peer-led group format to create a self-development program for people with enduring mental illness. The program included a workbook, six fortnightly peer-led groups, MP3 audios and telephone reminders. The content included principles of flourishing, mindfulness, gratitude, optimism, goal striving, dealing with internal resistance and building a success team. It did not include symptom/illness management and was run independently of mental health services. This world first program involved 45 participants with enduring mental illness from metropolitan, regional and rural contexts in Australia. Using a wait-list control design, significant gains were experienced. At completion participants had significant reductions in psychological distress, improvements in psychological well-being and on recovery measures: including perception of less domination by symptoms, increased personal confidence and hope, greater goal and success orientation and increased positive reliance on others. Description of Facility/Organisation: The program was developed by the team from the Illawarra Institute for Mental Health at the University of Wollongong. The NSW Consumer Advisory Group assisted with recruitment, particularly in the Sydney region. Based on self-help and recovery principles, the program was deliberately run as independently as possible from mental health services. A consumer consultation group assisted with development of the program materials, and seven consumer facilitators were employed to facilitate the group component of the program. The program ran in inner Sydney, Wollongong, Nowra all in NSW, and East Gippsland in Victoria. Participants were contacted through consumer groups and advertising and volunteered- receiving the MP3 player and handbook at no cost Sixty six participants completed the 12 week program. The program administered by the University of Wollongong was funded by a two year $81,000 Rotary Health grant.