Authors: Geelong Mood Support Group
Event: 2009 TheMHS Awards
Type of resource: TheMHS Awards
Award state: VIC
Award level: Finalist
Award category: Consumer Provided Services
Abstract: For ten years now a group of consumers have provided a powerful and successful mental health awareness program to some 5000 students. From year 9 to 3rd year university level the presenters have placed themselves and their lives open to investigation. Their personal stories provide the core messages of hope, strength, tragedy and resilience. The response from students is always the same; the personal perspectives bring a human face to mental illnesses; and mental health is an issue for everyone. Most of our current group of 7 presenters have been involved from the first presentation in 1998. They have personally experienced some terrible mental health episodes within this period but continue to feel passionate, responsible and respected for the overall impact of the program. As reference I attach figures illustrating the number of presentations done since the program inception and a reference from Dr Jane Maidment of Deakin University who engaged our presenters last year. Description of Facility/Organisation: The MHEP operates throughout the Geelong region servicing schools, universities and community organisations. The program is unfunded but gains small payment per presentation from the schools/groups involved. Small amounts have been received via the Rotary club of West Geelong to produce the booklets given to each and every student. The Presenters, while all have experienced poor mental health; through comprehensive training by the volunteer coordinator (also a consumer) they have developed public speaking skills and abilities to articulate to a range of audiences. Seven presenters share the responsibility in pairs to provide the primary messages in the program. The Volunteer coordinator (Judy Cooke) introduces the program and directs the presenters. These messages include: What mental illness is / is not; Contributing factors, definitions of some mental health terms, how to look after a friend, where to get help and getting help early.