Osborne Park support worker shares uses experience to help others


Osborne Park Community Mental Health Service peer worker Debra Roberts.
Picture: Andrew Ritchie        www.communitypix.com.au   d459790
Osborne Park Community Mental Health Service peer worker Debra Roberts. Picture: Andrew Ritchie        www.communitypix.com.au d459790

OSBORNE Park resident Debra Roberts is using her struggle with depression to help others as a mental health support worker.

Ms Roberts describes her darkest times with depression, post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety as being stuck at the bottom of a well.

“I used to feel like I was in this really deep, dark well with no way of getting out and that was my whole existence,” she said.

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“There was a lack of hope and things can get so bleak that it feels like you don’t have a future.

“I started recognising that there was a ladder and someone at the top wanting to help me out (so) that I could start moving forward.”

Ms Roberts said the road to recovery was about having the courage to ask for help.

“I used to just want the health care team to wave a magic wand so I could get better,” she said.

“It wasn’t until I recognised I needed to take control myself that I actually started to get better; it is amazing to see how far I have come.

“There is a quote that the journey of a thousand miles is started by taking one step; that is what it is like with mental illness, just one step at a time.”

The Osborne Park and Mirrabooka Community clinics see on average 1200-1300 people per month.

As a peer support worker, Ms Roberts draws on her experiences to help others.

“I love the work but it is quite challenging, the nature of mental health,” she said. “There isn’t a cure; if you break a bone, you set it and it gets better, but mental illness comes back, you can have down days.

“It’s about learning to manage those so that you stay on top of it.

“Being able to share my story is really important because often you can and you can see the light in someone’s eyes that they know you understand what they are going through.”

Ms Roberts will participate in a Mental Health Week (October 8-15) event at Mirrabooka Square on October 10 from 10am.

Opinion, page 8