October 7-13 we celebrate Mental Health Week which this year has the theme ‘stronger together’.
It’s the perfect description of Anglicare’s Pathways program which supports people experiencing mental illness and social isolation.
Pathways is a group program where people can make friends and practise their social skills. Each week day, Pathways provides opportunities for people to build their confidence and support their own health and well-being.
Anglicare connects Pathways participants with activities happening in the community, so they can choose to try different things such as table tennis, ten-pin bowling, croquet, art, archery, horse-riding, museum visits and fishing trips.
Rachel Wollastan says that more than anything, Pathways is fun. “It is a safe environment and that’s a really important thing,” she says. “Because it’s safe, people are able to have fun. And it’s not a help group…we don’t feel patronised”.
Rachel says she enjoys trying out various community activities. “These are things that I might not have known about or been sure how to access,” she says. “And it’s not just a one-off which is important. If there’s something you like, Pathways can assist you with joining the group and paying the fees so it’s within your reach".
“My favourite so far has been, of all things, lawn bowls,” she laughs. “I thought that was a game for fuddy-duddies but turns out I really like it and I’ve been able to grab a few games here and there at different clubs around Launceston”.
Ms Wollastan says she’s also made new friends at Pathways. “That social aspect is so important….and knowing that you’re all in the same boat means you’re talking the same language,” she says. “The friendships are real ones. It doesn’t just stay at Pathways. I’ve had people over for dinners and afternoons here in my home, had game nights and watched videos together. Just good fun and good company”.
She says Pathways has linked her with education and training opportunities, and is now supporting her to seek employment. “I would like to work in retail. I’d love to dress mannequins and do window displays”.
Anglicare Community Services Worker, Anna Antypas, says Pathways supports people with their social, recreational and educational goals. “It’s about giving people the tools to improve their quality of life and live at an optimum level of independence,” she says. “For example, attending a hospitality course to learn skills which may lead to employment, or take driving lessons, or learn new strategies for managing their mental health”.
Pathways is a free service open to anyone 18 years or over who has a mental health issue. “It’s all voluntary so people can come as often as they wish,” says Anna.
Research shows that good mental health is connected with feeling socially included, having relationships with other people, and making a meaningful contribution to the community.
Visit the Mental Health Week Tasmania website for special events happening in your local area,