Tuning Up To Manage Mental Health Issues In The Shoalhaven

Tue Jun 26, 2018

People with mental health issues, mental health professionals and mental health students are banding together to drum up a perfect storm in Nowra, all in the name of mental health recovery.

Initiated by Flourish Australia Peer Worker and Nowra local John Willans, the jamming initiative uses music as a creative outlet, and also encourages people who are isolated to form better social connections.

A mechanic by trade and living with bi-polar disorder, John has frequently turned to guitar and drum playing over the years to express himself and find senses of meaning and achievement.

Now a qualified mental health Peer Worker (someone who uses their personal experiences to help others with mental health issues to towards recovery), John wants to draw others in on the magic of music as a healing quality.

John is calling for people with mental health issues to come and ‘jam’ on a regular basis at Flourish Australia’s headquarters in Nowra.

Interest has so far been sought from many Flourish Australia clients and staff, and also mental health students at Nowra TAFE.

“We’re looking for people with mental health issues or an interest in mental health to come along and have some jamming fun,” John explained.

“You don’t have to be Elvis or Beethoven - in fact this could be your very first attempt at music.

“We’ll feel our way along to see what kinds of music work best – there’s no set agenda.

“It’s sometimes incredible what can be produced through music when strangers gather and combine their ideas and talents - the results can be incredibly uplifting.

“Music has got me through some of the darkest times, so I can vouch first-hand about the value of music as a healing medium.”

Flourish Australia Nowra Manager Helen Backhouse said artistic pursuits were well known keys to mental health recovery.

“We often encourage people with severe mental health issues to turn to pursuits such as music and art as part of their recovery journey,” Ms Backhouse said.

“It’s not just the immersion in creative activity that helps, but also the ability to mix with others along the way. Such social interaction is vital.”

It’s hoped that the jamming sessions can be held on a monthly session once more interested participants are identified.

Flourish Australia is best known in the Shoalhaven as a leading NDIS provider, supporting people towards mental health recovery.


Media outlets are invited attend Flourish Australia’s Nowra headquarters to interview and take pictures of the initial participants jamming.

WHEN: 2.00pm, Tuesday 26 June,
WHERE: 47 Worrigee St, Nowra

Flourish Australia is a not-for-profit organisation providing support programs, employment, accommodation and hope for about 5,000 people with mental health issues in New South Wales and Queensland. Advocating community-based assistance, it is a leading mental health support provider that has been in operation for 60 years.

Media enquiries

Helen Backhouse - 0414 448 397
Matthew Watson - 0417 691 884