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Complex Mental Health and Disability News - October 2022
Karenza Louis-Smith

A message from our CEO

October is Mental Health Month and what a great time to remind ourselves about taking time to invest in our own mental health. I am someone with my own lived experience mental health journey as a young person and into my adulthood. You can find out how I learned to prioritise self-care in this newsletter. 

It’s an exciting time to be at ermha365 with new programs starting - our work in the Drug Courts in Shepparton, which we shared in last month’s newsletter and we are also busy recruiting for a new community mental health service in Geelong.
We are part of the consortium operating this Local and are excited to be working with Barwon Health, Wellways and Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative to provide community mental health support in the region.

Our HOPE team in the Barwon is ready to start next week. HOPE stands for Hospital Outreach Post-Suicidal Engagement (HOPE) and we are partnering with Barwon Health to deliver this important support.

For ermha365’s Get Real Podcast we discussed the living experience mental health workforce and a fantastic pilot program from VMIAC called Consumers Leading in Governance. This program gives consumers of mental health services the opportunity to get education, training and practical learning experience to participate in leadership and governance arrangements across Victoria's transforming mental health system.

I’m thrilled that ermha365 participated in this program, offering experience for a participant to spend time with our Board. VMIAC’s Project lead Erandathie Jayakody and program participant Jo Rasmussen were the guests for this episode. 

Mental Health and Community Services

Casey Cobras: fostering a sense of belonging and wellbeing

Casey Cobras football team
We’re proud to support the footy team Casey Cobras who play in Reclink Australia’s Victorian Football League. We’ve worked with the Casey Cobras for a number of years. 

It was a mixed year for the Casey Cobras. After a slow start to the season which involved a few big losses, the team came together to get the season back on track. Several strong wins ensued before injury to some key players presented some real challenges towards the end of the year. Other players stepped up their contributions and featured in the voting for the first time which allowed the team to stay in touch with the teams leading the league.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough to allow the Cobras to add to the trophy cabinet during the finals, but the team will be all the better for it next year. 

The season was capped off with an awards night that was well attended and enjoyed by all. Awards were given for contributions both on and off the field and the value of being part of a team and working towards a common goal was on display for all to see.

Whether winning or losing, the Cobras provided a great example of the enormous benefits that a team environment can provide - a sense of belonging, the acknowledgement and encouragement of peers, and the opportunity to make a difference to the well-being of others.

All of the above were on display throughout the season and we can all look forward to them continuing the good work next season. Find out more about the 2022 season’s results at Reclink Australia

Mental Health Month

Prioritising self-care: my experience - ermha365 CEO Karenza Louis Smith
As a youth and community worker of 25 years I have learnt that self-care is the most important thing for managing my physical and mental health. As health and human services workers we often have the tendency to put others first - But what about the time for ourselves? 

I learnt this lesson a few jobs ago when I was close to burning out. I had stopped taking care of myself, was working long hours but not really achieving much. There were days when I felt full of anxiety and stress. I was comfort eating, my weight had reached 120 kilos and red wine was my best friend. 

I had come to a point when I had stopped caring about me. I had also started to lose sight of the things that were important in my life. Most of all I think I had started to lose myself. I was at a place when I had to stop and prioritise myself in order to be a better mum, a better leader and a better version of me

How did I do that? Well, it wasn't easy. I needed to recognise that I had stopped caring about me…and it was a serious situation. I had to ask myself what I needed to do for my own mental and physical health.

So, I changed some things:
  • I set time aside to plan meals that were healthy
  • Made time each day to go to the gym  
  • I chose to stop drinking those red wines at the end of the day 
  • I reached out to my support network and learnt to talk about how I felt 
  • I shared with my boss that I was feeling overwhelmed, stressed and anxious
  • I set boundaries and held myself to account with the boundaries I'd set
  • Made time for “me” on the weekends and in the evenings. 
Having an interest or activity we are passionate about is really important too. I'm a bit of a radio nerd, so I love getting involved in the ermha365 podcast GET REAL and presenting on my local community radio. It’s something purely for me that really fills my cup. 

Today I think I have a much better balance.  

As a result I’m a better CEO, leader, better partner, mum and better friend too. My mental health matters.

So does yours.  
What do you do for you?  
Are you making the time for you, and what does that look like? 
If not, why not? What can you do differently to make time for you?  


New roles for Mental Health and Wellbeing and Forensic Mental Health

Interviewing for new roles

Mental Health and Wellbeing support roles
Earlier this month we had a recruitment information session in Geelong for people interested in working at the new mental health and wellbeing service that we’re part of for the Barwon region.

Candidates were given the opportunity to learn about Mental Health and AOD Support Worker and Peer Support Worker roles from the teams at ermha365, Wellways and Barwon Health.

This service is designed for people aged 26 years and over experiencing mental health or wellbeing concerns and is one many being introduced in locations across Victoria by the end of 2026.
It’s an exciting space to watch!

Visit our
Careers website to see more roles available.

Forensic Mental Health Clinician
ermha365 has been appointed as the Mental Health In-reach service at Magistrates' Court Victoria's Shepparton Drug Court. We're thrilled to be working with the Drug Court, supporting people with entrenched drug or alcohol dependency and offending behaviour to make positive changes in their lives. We are looking for a Forensic Mental Health Clinician to join us in this newly created full time role until 30/6/23.

More information about the Forensic Mental Health Clinician role is available here.

Staff Awards 2021

The Karslake Award
Annabelle Scott
This month we introduce Annabelle Scott, one of our impressive Support Facilitators, who won the 2021 Karslake Award.

The Karslake award is like the ‘best and fairest’ award for the entire ermha365 workforce. It is named after two of ermha365’s founders Harry and Betty Karslake, and recognises people who embody the values of the organisation when it was first founded.

These include integrity, excellence, dedication, teamwork, professionalism, advocacy and a commitment to recovery, independence and inclusion for clients, families and carers.

Annabelle received a large number of nominations this year for the Karslake Award from across the organisation:
"This year Annabelle has pushed herself beyond expectation. Not only has Annabelle provided the best/high standard support to her clients but at the same time she joined the pandemic team and helped the entire organisation navigate through this challenge."

"Throughout this stressful and often frustrating time, Annabelle has helped providing reassurance and factual information to co-workers and clients about this specific issue while continuing helping her TAC team and clients with their health needs and goals. Annabelle even stepped up as the acting team leader recently, again providing that "extra" support to the team."

"Annabelle is a shining star, totally worthy of winning this year’s Karslake award!"


Talking Mental Health & Disability podcast

Get Real: Talking Mental Health and Disability
Get Real: Talking Mental Health and Disability presents frank and fearless conversations about mental health and disability, including people with lived experience, frontline workers in the industry, as well as policy-makers and advocates.

You can listen, rate and review GET REAL on your preferred podcast listening platform including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts, and  Stitcher.
The Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council, known as VMIAC is running a pilot project giving consumers of mental health services the opportunity to get education, training and practical learning experience to participate in leadership and governance arrangements across Victoria's transforming mental health system.

We spoke to Erandathie Jayakody and Jo Rasmussen for a GET REAL: Talking mental health & disability podcast about this program and the living experience workforce.

Both Erandathie and Jo have living experience of being consumers of mental health services and are heavily involved in consumer leadership and elevating consumer perspective for the co-design, delivery and outcomes of these services.

You can listen here.

Useful links and resources

Mindful Habits for Mental Health
from Mental Health Australia for World Mental Health Month 2022
ermha365 - Complex Mental Health and Disability
South-East Melbourne | North-West Melbourne | Geelong | Bendigo | Darwin
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Acknowledgement of Country

ermha365 acknowledges that our work in the community takes place on the Traditional Lands of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and therefore respectfully recognise their Elders, past and present, and the ongoing Custodianship of the Land and Water by all Members of these Communities.
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