CANNINGTON-based mental health service provider Richmond Wellbeing (RW) has assured people living with mental illness that help will remain in place over the festive period.
Research states that being socially isolated can negatively affect mental and physical health, and RW chief executive Neil Guard said the service prioritised community.
“Research has shown that in any one year, more than one million Australian adults have depression, and over two million have anxiety. On average, 1 in 5 women will experience depression within their lifetime and 1 in 3 women will experience anxiety,” he said.
“Christmas time is where special attention is needed for those suffering with mental health issues. It is a time where people are likely to experience problems and feel most isolated.”
In the lead up to Christmas, Mr Guard said RW had been working to promote opportunities for socially isolated people to build strong social relationships and be active in their local communities.
One such initiative includes support of the Courageous African Women Network, a group of women participating in new social activities to encourage community connection and support in challenging times, which will continue an outreach program throughout the festive season as well as holding a family function on Christmas Day.
Kardie Algele, a member of the network, experiences social isolation due to cognitive challenges.
Ms Algele came to Australia after being injured in a violent political rally in Sierra Leone.
She was diagnosed with a brain clot, which led to a stroke.
Ms Algele now finds cognitive skills challenging and finds it hard to maintain relationships after her school and childhood social circles diminished.
Other than contact with her daughter, she said she had become very socially isolated.
“The network is great and allows me to have a new group of friends,” Ms Algele said.
“We are like a little community. The women support me daily and sometimes cook me meals or pick me up and take me to appointments or to network meetings.
“We are always dancing and laughing, the network has been a really positive thing for me, I honestly don’t know how I would get through Christmas without their support, ” she said.
Throughout the break, the women will continue to host dance and exercise classes running 3.30pm-5.30pm every Saturday at Cannington Leisureplex in Cannington.
For more information call 9350 8800.