Service a silver lining

Richelle pictured at the Joondalup Sub Acute Facility.
Richelle pictured at the Joondalup Sub Acute Facility.

But she’s learnt no matter how helpless she feels, she doesn’t have to endure the anxiety alone. She wants others with mental illness to know effective help is out there and there’s no shame in seeking it.

Richelle, who did not want her surname published, has experienced dark times.

Suicidal thoughts, self-harm and social withdrawal have had her in and out of hospital for the past four years.

The 28-year-old has developed an understanding of the signs that warn her she needs to seek help.

‘I start to isolate, spend more time in bed and my thought patterns tend to be extremely dark,’ she said.

It was one such episode at the end of last year that resulted in Richelle’s psychiatrist referring her to a new mental health service in Joondalup.

The Joondalup Sub Acute Facility, which opened in May last year, allows people coping with mental illness to live onsite in self-contained units for up to 28 days as a major step in their recovery.

Run by not-for-profit mental health service Neami, it’s the first of its kind in WA.

Importantly, it lessens the need for admission to the often stressful surrounds of a hospital psychiatric ward.

So far, the majority of more than 200 residents, including Richelle, who have used the 22-bed centre have completed their time without the need for further hospitalisation.

Richelle said she felt much ‘freer’ at the sub acute facility compared with time she spent at Joondalup Health Campus, which ‘felt like a jail’.

‘You feed on each others’ troubles and if someone is having a negative day it pulls everything down,’ she said.

‘Here (at the sub acute facility), it can be isolated’