AFTER turning to a mental health support organisation for help, two northern suburbs residents are now giving back in the best way possible.
As carers of people with mental health issues, Tracey Cameron, of Clarkson, and Banksia Grove’s Hilary Sherlock sought help from the Mental Illness Fellowship of WA (MIFWA).
They have both worked for the organisation for the past couple of years and are studying to work in the mental health sector.
Ms Cameron was referred to MIFWA after her teenaged daughter and partner were diagnosed with mental health issues about the same time.
She said her family was in “crisis” and she felt desperate.
“Things were pretty extreme,” she said. “It was my first dealing with what mental illness was like.
“I didn’t feel safe in my own home and I didn’t know how to help them.”
She attended various courses and workshops at the organisation and was visited by a family support office every week. “They really have saved my family at the end of the day,” she said.
Ms Sherlock contacted the fellowship in 2011 after her son became mentally unwell and believed without their help may have ended up ill herself.
“Doing that helped get me back into society,” she said.
“They’re a great source of support.”Working as a course facilitator for the past two years had been rewarding.
“You see them getting stronger, just feeling that little bit happier and being a better carer by taking care of themselves,” she said.
“Everyone needs to do that for themselves but particularly carers as they are often put on the backburner and everything is about their children or partner.”
The duo is now both aiming for a career in counselling or mental health and will continue to work with MIFWA.
“I just want to help people,” Ms Cameron said.
“It’s getting rid of the stigma and spreading the knowledge about mental illness.”
MIFWA carer support officer Trudy Young, who also initially became involved with the fellowship as a client, said its services were important for families, carers and friends of someone with mental illness.
“Supporting someone through mental health issues can be challenging and sometimes frustrating,” she said.
“At the time I really had no hope and had resigned myself to the inevitable break up of my family.
“The information I learned empowered me to make decisions, improved my communication techniques and provided me with an understanding of mental illness that renewed my empathy, compassion and hope.”
For help or more information, call 9237 8900.