A NOT-FOR-PROFIT organisation providing free, expedited mental health services in Fremantle is expanding after receiving a community grant.
Bluebird cut through the health system red tape by allowing people aged 25 or older with anxiety or depression to attend its free peer-support group, run by a registered psychologist, without a doctor’s referral or going on a waiting list.
“We want to reduce the barriers or ‘red tape’ associated with receiving support, and ensure people get the right help at the right time,” says Bluebird’s Tara Ellis.
“We have a diverse membership, from people who are living with a long-term mental health condition, members without a diagnosis and newly diagnosed members who need strategies and support.
“Once members are screened, they can attend as and when they need support, we have some long standing members that have been attending for the last five years.”
Bluebird was founded in 2013 by Amanda MacGregor, after experiencing firsthand the gap in services and support for adults aged over 25 with depression.
“Starting Bluebird was a major catalyst in my recovery and a much needed light in a very dark place,” she says.
“I finally found people just like me and a place where I belonged. Depression completely changed my life but it also made me stronger, more grateful and with a passion for living a meaning life every day”.
Bluebird hold fortnightly support groups with up to 12 people in the heart of Fremantle, but the community investment grant from Fremantle Ports will let them run additional groups.
“Peer-support can effectively complement professional support and build capacity of individuals to manage their mental health and wellbeing long term,” Ellis says.
“Research has shown that support groups are just as effective as trained therapists at alleviating moderate levels of depression.”
The community support groups also alleviate pressure on the creaking WA health system.
“Early intervention is a cost-effective strategy in reducing the need for hospitalisation and inpatient facilities,” Ellis says
“The WA Mental Health 2015-2025 plan shows that ‘expanding services that focus on prevention and community-based care will ultimately reduce the use of higher cost hospital-based services…’
“It is estimated that 43 percent of people in specialised mental health hospital beds could be discharged if housing and other appropriate support services were available.
“Bluebird offer psychologist facilitated peer support groups, wellbeing workshops and social events to encourage a whole-of-life approach for members to manage their mental health and wellbeing long term.”
To find out more and register for support go to bluebird.org.au
by STEPHEN POLLOCK