Maintaining positive mental health and wellbeing is essential for optimising our overall quality of life.

This week is Queensland Mental Health Week, an opportunity to evaluate our understanding of mental health, and raise awareness of the avenues that are available to support people with managing and improving their mental health.

This year’s theme is Awareness, Belonging, Connection; in an increasingly unpredictable and disconnected world, we here at Communify believe that this is a salient lens through which to explore the role of mental health in our society. Our amazing mental health service staff bring not only their tireless dedication in working with our clients, but also fresh and unique perspectives informed by their own experiences.

In recognition of Queensland Mental Health Week, our Safe Space Peer Support Worker Aimee shares her lived experience of mental health challenges and how it’s led her to where she is today, supporting others in their mental health journey:

“I began having contact with the mental health system in my teens and spent most of my twenties engaged with mental health services as a mostly unwilling participant. My experience was that there was something fundamental missing in the way my distress was understood and addressed by the system as a whole. I undertook my studies in psychology and social work as a way to better understand where the disconnect was occurring between what I felt I needed as a consumer and what was being offered to me.

After completing my Masters in 2018, I worked in domestic violence, which is inextricably linked with mental health as both a cause and a symptom. I loved the work, particularly supporting older people experiencing elder abuse to create safety and peace in their later years. But I felt like I was constantly struggling with my mental health and trying to “keep it together” for my clients and colleagues. I realized that I needed to find a space in which I could not just be open about my challenges, but use them to inform my practice and my advocacy. I had no experience with peer support when I joined the Safe Spaces team, but my time with them has embodied the themes of awareness, belonging and connection.

What the Queensland Mental Health Week themes mean to me in terms of my work is the opportunity to tell my story with authenticity and intention. Stories can raise awareness, make each of us feel less alone, and inspire us to create new stories with the people we meet. Learning to create a space for stories to be told without fear and stories to be created with hope has been immeasurably valuable both personally and professionally.

I think what was missing for me in my experience of the mental health system was the space for authenticity and shared experience. There is a separation between ‘us’ and ‘them’ in the traditional model of mental health care. The well and the unwell, the sane and the insane. Peer work allows us to be all of these things or none of these things as we navigate challenges with shared curiosity and mutual learning.”

Communify is a place-based community services organisation with over 40 years of experience in listening and responding to the needs and interests of our community members. We are strongly established within our community as a provider of a robust, multi-faceted suite of mental health services that incorporate clinical and non-clinical supports. In delivering these services, our teams work alongside each individual to ensure that the supports provided are tailored to their specific health needs and recovery journey.

Click here to learn more about our range of mental health support services.