For 40 years, Rob Moorehead lived life thinking “everyone else was different”.
“For years I only slept three hours a night. I would wake up at 3am and clean the kitchen cupboards. I would wake my Labradors up at 4am to go for a surf and they’d look at me as if to say, ‘go back to bed’. I would never run out of energy and my mind never stopped,” Rob says.
After reaching out to his brother, Rob was connected to a specialist Mental Health Service. He describes it as “the day my life changed”. Rob came to understand that he was living with bipolar disorder and has since found treatments that work for him, including medication that helps him sleep, turns off his mind and reduces mood swings.
“I grew up in a time when men didn’t talk about their emotions. I was also heavily into rugby league, which I still am today.”
“I’m glad to say that both our wider society and the football community has changed. There is now a more open pathway for men to put their hand up and say, ‘I need help.’ We are breaking down the stigma attached to mental health,” says Rob
Today, Rob is among the large number of people in NSW working to help others who live with mental health issues. He is the CEO of Endeavour Mental Health Recovery Clubhouse in Port Macquarie; a safe, caring, community-based space where people living with mental health issues can go to build up their confidence, self-esteem, social skills and vocational skills.
Based on the International Clubhouse model of recovery that is used around the world, people who go to Endeavour are voluntary members rather than clients or patients, and the focus is on supporting them to lead productive, dignified, satisfying lives.
“The strength of our recovery facility is our members,” Rob explains. “The marvellous skill sets that people have that are often hidden, we encourage them to grow and dig down and access them. It’s just so rewarding.”
It took 13 years of community fundraising for Endeavour Clubhouse to come into being, with the service finally opening its doors in August 2015. Today, Endeavour has 250 members and sees 25-40 of them a day.
“We’re only open three days a week, which is hard,” Rob says. “I have members who go downhill on a Thursday afternoon because they know they can’t come back to the Clubhouse until next Tuesday when we open again.”
Formerly an electrician and then the owner of supermarkets and retail outlets, Rob discovered his passion for working in social support after helping a friend within Disability Services.
“I don’t think this is rocket science. If you are working with people with moderate to severe mental health issues, you must be able to communicate. The other big thing is building people’s confidence and self-esteem. Until then, they’re not going to jump on board with the help we can offer,” he says.
Since 2015, Endeavour Clubhouse has developed strong partnerships with the mental health services around Port Macquarie.
“We do a lot of work with Lifeline, and partner with the Local Health District and the Primary Health Network”, says Rob.
“We ran a successful Hospital to Home program, and we have a tremendous relationship with the Acute Mental Health team at Port Base Hospital in Port Macquarie.”
“Our local State Member for Port Macquarie, Lesley Williams, has been a wonderful support to Endeavour and has championed Endeavour Clubhouse to all and sundry. It’s great to be seen as a wonderful recovery facility that keeps people out of hospital,” Rob continues.
“The Port Macquarie and Hastings community are wonderful supporters of Endeavour Clubhouse. People are often putting their hands in their pocket or asking, ‘how can we help?’ It really makes you feel special.”
“My staff and I have the best jobs in the world. Every day, we can go home and say that we made a difference in someone’s life, which makes our roles in the sector extremely rewarding,” says Rob.
Find out more about Endeavour Clubhouse here: http://www.endeavourclubhouse.com.au/.