Landmark Newcastle Mental Wellbeing Centre Preparing For Expansion Under NDIS

Wed Mar 15, 2017

One of the Hunter’s big achievers in supporting people experiencing mental health issues is preparing to change the lives of an extra 200 individuals as local mental health support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) ramps up.

The unique Hunter Street Wellbeing drop-in centre operated by Flourish Australia has already helped hundreds of local people with mental health issues get their lives back on track since opening its doors at 627 Hunter Street 12 months ago.

The next phase of operation will see about 200 additional people taken on tailor-made mental health recovery journeys up until 2019, as demand for mental health support increases under the NDIS.

To keep up with demand, the centre will become a seven-day-a-week operation.

The new centre and the growth of the sector has also lead to the creation of 50 jobs for local mental health ‘peer workers’ – people who have a lived experience of mental health issues who go onto make a professional career out of using their own lived experience to support others.

The centre is unique because its doors are open for people from all walks of life who are or think they may be experiencing mental health issues.

Local people can drop in to the friendly and discreet environment at any time to simply chat with support staff, enjoy a meal, exercise in the on-site gym, use the art studio or plug into a range of community activities.

For people needing broader mental health support, the centre is a gateway for more comprehensive services available through Flourish Australia under the NDIS, including accommodation, educational, recreational and vocation support.

The centre is vital, given that one in four people in any 12 month period will experience a mental health issue, and about half the population will be trying to manage this at some stage in their lives.

Flourish Australia NDIS Business Manager Mark Cliff said the drop-in centre has proved to be extremely popular as the NDIS takes off in Newcastle and the Hunter.

“This come-one-come-all drop-in centre is quite unique,” Mr Cliff said.

“A lot of the time people experiencing mental health issues just don’t know where to go or what to do, or don’t realise expert support is available locally.

“The centre allows people from all walks of life to drop in to a welcoming environment where they can learn about mental health and how to get the right help.

“From there a whole new world of support typically opens up.

“All of a sudden people who might have been suffering in silence have got peers to talk to, and they are offered tailor-made journeys to get the best help for their circumstances.

“It’s efficient and cost effective, reduces hospitalisations and improves lives immeasurably.

A centre regular and local artist “Glenda” said her life turned around after first visiting 18 months ago.

“Isolation and loneliness are big scourges when it comes to mental health,” Glenda said.

“The centre is an environment where people can feel a sense of belonging and value, and be hooked up with all sorts of community activities and life-changing initiatives.

“That in itself is gold when it comes to going on a recovery journey. The more support you have around you, the better your chances of recovery.”