Vinnies has a strong commitment to assisting people with mental illness, which includes helping to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
We are proud to support Mental Health Week 2015 (October 4-10). Mental Health Week aims to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and wellbeing in the wider community.
Mental Health Week is an annual national awareness event held every year to coincide with World Mental Health Day (WMHD), which is being held on Saturday 10th October, 2015.
Understanding mental health
One in every five Australians aged between 16 and 85 experience a form of mental illness in any year. An extract from the 2009 paper Mental Health, Housing and Homelessness in Australia states: ‘some health problems precede and casually contribute to homelessness, some health problems are the consequence of or are exacerbated by homelessness; and homelessness complicates the treatment of many illnesses’. This intersectionality between mental health and a range of other issues, also known as the Social Determinants of Health approach to mental health, is explored in more detail in our recent report into mental health services in Australia.
Case study: Bethlehem House
Bethlehem House, a Special Work of the Society in Tasmania, provides a safe environment within its crisis accommodation service in Hobart for men who are homeless or a risk of homelessness. Bethlehem House undertook a survey in 2014 that found 85 per cent of respondents disclosed having a mental health condition but only 72 per cent indicated that they had received some form of treatment for their diagnosed condition. As a result of these high numbers Bethlehem support staff were trained in mental health first aid and suicide prevention.
Our staff were supported through this training experience based on our organisational values, which are respect, empowerment, dignity, and hope within an atmosphere of compassion to assist and work alongside those in distress of one’s mental health situation. We promote and encourage all areas of each person’s recovery journey and provide understanding and the hope to enjoy a productive life equipped with the desired life skills to be a citizen in their community.
Bethlehem House has a good working relationship with the local public mental health team and receives some support from the crisis intervention team. Bethlehem House is considered a safe exit point for patients on discharge from both the hospital and forensic health units of the State.
Over the last 18 months we have been a stable accommodation for an itinerant male who previously had a chronic mental health issue and was non-compliant in his medication requirements. Through stable accommodation, constant supervision by staff and medication compliance he has started to re-connect with his family unit and is looking forward to long term stable accommodation and family visitations.
What Vinnies does
Assisting over two million Australian each year, members of the St Vincent de Paul Society inevitably come into contact with a large number of people experiencing mental illness. We work directly with people experiencing mental health difficulties, helping them to reconnect with the community.
How you can get involved
- Visit the Find Help section of our website if you or somebody you know needs assistance.
- Visit the Health Matters section of our website to learn more about our advocacy and services, such as the Compeer program, which is a friendship program that helps people with mental illness through friendships and support.
- Read the submissions Vinnies has made to government on the topic of mental health reform.
- Visit the Mental Health Begins With Me! Campaign website run by Mental Health Australia.
- Support Mental Health Week on social media:
- Twitter hashtag:
- Like the Vinnies Australia Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/VinniesAU
If you or someone you know needs urgent help please contact one of these national 24/7 crisis services: