Wanneroo: Personal Helpers and Mentor Support stall to inform on mental health

Personal Helpers and Mentor Support Program coordinator Vicki Smith. Picture: Martin Kennealey d474833
Personal Helpers and Mentor Support Program coordinator Vicki Smith. Picture: Martin Kennealey d474833

ANGLICARE WA’s PHaMs (Personal Helpers and Mentor Support) program will have an information stall in Wanneroo today for Mental Health Week.

PHaMs in the City of Wanneroo is a mental health service provided by Anglicare WA through an informal mentoring system.

The staff have personal experiences with mental health issues through their own lives or families, and can offer tremendous empathy to those seeking help.

PHaMs co-ordinator Vicki Smith said most clients had been referred from the local Mental Health Unit, although self-referrals were also welcome.

“Our staff will help clients explore possibilities and set goals in order to take more control over their lives,” she said.

“We don’t deal with people in crisis, but generally those in recovery who really need some support, encouragement and mentor to talk to.”

Ms Smith said the most common struggle for many people was the social isolation which came from having no family or friends, often resulting from dealing with mental illness for many years.

“Many people suffer from anxiety or depression,” she said.

“Others may have borderline personality disorder, bipolar or schizophrenia.

“Others may be living with the trauma of childhood abuse, grief from loss, obsessive compulsive disorder or post traumatic stress, and all of these things can cause people to hide away and lose contact with society.”

Ms Smith said a current client suffered from panic disorder, so a team member travelled with her on public transport, helping lessen the anxiety.

“We also have clients at risk of eviction by Department of Housing, often from mental health issues such as hording or creating squalor, and we work with them to find appropriate support and accommodation for their condition,” she said.

“PHaMs is a safe space and we don’t judge anyone. We recognise that trauma and abuse can affect people for life.

“Our aim is to reduce the stigma around mental health issues so more people come forward and there is less misunderstanding around these issues.

“Ultimately, we like to re-engage people in the community and end the social isolation.”

PHaMs staff and participants will have an information stall at the Wanneroo Library on October 10.

Call 1800 880 657.

Mental Health Week runs until October 14.

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