By Emma Atkinson
Millions of people across Australia will suffer with a mental health issue at some point in their lives and this is when organisations like Grow step up to the plate.
Grow, which was first established in Sydney in 1957, is a community-based program that has helped thousands of Australians recover from mental illness through its free program of mutual support and personal development.
Julie, who prefers not to give her last name, is a field worker for Grow who covers the south-east region of Perth, explained how Grow is unique in that the groups are not run by facilitators, they are run by the people who attend the meetings which are held every week in various locations across Perth.
“It’s a very structured meeting and it has to be that way because there is no facilitator, but everyone gets to bring a problem to group and the people within the group help them, give them ideas on what they can do,” said Julie.
“Grow wouldn’t be here without the people who attend the groups and people make friendships within the group as well and friendship is a key factor in mental health,” she said.
Trudy, who regularly attends the Grow meetings in her area, found Grow nearly 22 years ago when she was suffering with mental health issues.
“A friend of mine came to me and he said ‘Trudy I’ve found the perfect place for you’ because apart from him and his wife I had no friends, I didn’t know how to socialise with anybody and I was actually petrified of people,” said Trudy.
After attending the meetings and following Grows’ twelve step program which incorporates cognitive behavioural therapy, Trudy now works on a voluntary basis for Grow doing public speaking at several organisations.
“From when I first came to Grow and I couldn’t even talk to one person without bursting into tears, to my work now where I do public speaking, going out to various organisations and telling them about Grow, I have changed, absolutely changed and my confidence has certainly improved going through Grow.”
If you or anyone you know is suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned in this story, please contact lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit the Beyond Blue website here.