St Bart’s a beacon for mental health sufferers

Arnott Village resident Lorna Hewett with psych co-ordinator Tracey Brown.
Arnott Village resident Lorna Hewett with psych co-ordinator Tracey Brown.

R U Ok? Day is a national day of action but for the residents of those living in St Bart’s villas, like Arnott Villas in Kelmscott, mental illness is something already experienced on a daily basis.

One resident, Lorna Hewett, said last Thursday she hoped people would give those with mental illnesses more credit.

She experiences post-traumatic stress symptoms and has up and down days with a history of self-harm but feels like she is able to now take pride in herself through the support offered.

Mrs Hewett proudly showed Comment News the flourishing results of her green thumb and the villa she shares with another resident.

‘Here at St Bart’s they let me live as I am now,’ she said.

‘I’m 56 years of age and I’m just starting to live now.’

She said people experiencing mental health problems could become overwhelmed by alcohol or drugs, but she said there were many other things that could make them feel more alive and offer a sense of achievement.

‘Later on when I feel very good I’ll be able to go out and have my own unit,’ she said.

Psych co-ordinator Tracey Brown said more education about mental health was needed as there was still a strong stigma attached to mental illness.

‘We have 22 long-term residents with chronic mental health issues, aged 18 to 65 years who need medium to low support needs of about two to four hours a day,’ Mrs Brown said.

St Bart’s celebrates its 50th year this year with community supported residential units in Bentley and crisis/respite accommodation units in Cannington.