NSW Mental Health Commission staff were among the guest speakers at this year’s Consumer Workers’ Forum, which saw peer workers from across the state come together for two days of networking, sharing and learning.
In his keynote address, NSW Deputy Mental Health Commissioner Allan Sparkes shared his experience of mental distress and the strategies he relies on to stay well, including physical fitness and sleep. He also provided a brief update about the Commission’s work.
Commission staff led an education session that introduced peer workers to the Wheel of Wellbeing model. This increasingly-used approach encourages people to improve their lives by undertaking activities in six areas: mind, body, spirit, people, place and planet. The tool can be used by peer workers to help clients in their recovery, as well as to support peer workers’ own wellbeing. The Commission distributed additional resources as well.
Also at the Forum was the Minister for Mental Health, the Hon. Tanya Davies MP, who announced $2.7 million funding to expand NSW’s public peer workforce in 2017-2018. The Commission welcomes the expansion, which aligns with priorities in Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW 2014-2024.
The 2017 Consumer Workers' Forum was hosted by Being in collaboration with the NSW Public Mental Health Consumer Worker Committee, and funded by the NSW Ministry of Health. It is an annual professional development event for peer workers in NSW’s public mental health system.
Consumer workers (also called peer workers) are mental health workers who are “experts by experience”. They use their personal experience of mental illness and recovery to support others to recover. Those interested in learning more about peer work are invited to access the Commission’s Peer Work Hub.