1 in 5 Australian adults experience mental illness every year according to Better Health Victoria, however, wait times to seek professional help can be up to 6 months.
Ballarat tradesman and father of 2, Mike*, has been off work for 18 months due to injury just as the global pandemic started. He suffered severe depression and anxiety, but after obtaining a care plan from his GP, the best appointment he could get was 6 months away. After weeks of persistence by his concerned wife, he was able to get short-term help from a community provider. But there was literally nowhere he could walk in to and say “Hi, I need help.”
This is a devastating scenario local counsellor Steve Vanderwerf has seen all too often, and to help combat the insufferable difficulties in accessing help, he plans to build a Mobile Mental Health Hub.
Steve says, “many people suffer alone, so when they are walking down the street feeling misunderstood, unsupported and afraid, having a safe place to step into could just save a life.”
Steve plans to refurbish a caravan into a welcoming space that can be parked in community locations such as shopping centres or libraries. “It will be a volunteer run service, providing resources, information and a friendly ear to anyone walking by who needs it,” says Steve. “Our community needs as much mental health support as possible, especially now.”
Before becoming a counsellor, Steve worked as a professional organiser, helping people to declutter their spaces. But he soon realised that the cluttering behaviours and habits were strongly linked to psychological needs, and the career progression grew from there.
As a community initiative, Steve has created a Facebook group for supporters and volunteers to discuss ideas and plans, and a GoFundMe page to raise money to purchase the van and supplies for the refurbishment. He hopes to have the van completed by the end of the year.
For more information or story opportunities please contact:
NAME: Steve Vanderwerf – Catch Counselling and Wellbeing
PHONE: 0401 736 275