Reaching out for good mental health

Throughout Mental Health Week in mid-October, St John of God Murdoch Community Mental Health reached out to the community to encourage people to seek help if they need it.

Social Outreach Manager Stephanie Jones says Mental Health Week provided a great opportunity to encourage openness about mental health issues, as well as get the word out about the services she and her team provide the community.

“There is still so much stigma around mental health issues and this kind of health promotion really enables us to break down the barriers that prevent people from seeking help,” Ms Jones says.

“This year’s focus on suicide prevention brought to the fore the seriousness of people’s issues and how vital it is that people feel comfortable seeking help so that we can listen and support them.”

Outreach Workers were on hand at Cockburn Health and Community’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Day and Fremantle Women’s Health Day in Hilton to answer questions about how to stay mentally healthy.

The team was also involved in the annual Black Dog on a Lead walk around Bibra Lake to promote open discussion about depression. They also organised an education stand for their colleagues at St John of God Murdoch Hospital to raise awareness for patient and staff needs.

For more information about Murdoch Community Mental Health:
Address: 160 High Street, Fremantle 6160
Tel: (08) 6226 9400
Fax: (08) 6226 9488


cropped-mental-health-weekMurdoch Community Mental health offers psychological therapies, counselling and psycho-education for people experiencing depression and anxiety, grief and loss, trauma and other problems of mental and emotional wellbeing. Counselling is also available for families and carers who may be affected by these difficulties.

Referrals for this service can be obtained from a GP and a Mental Health Care Plan will be required. You may also self-refer. This service is for those people who are disadvantaged or marginalised and have difficulty accessing mainstream services. Costs are bulk billed or low cost.  

These services are offered in Fremantle and will soon also be offered at the new St John of God Mandurah Consulting Suites.




Our counselling services are moving

SJOG_MRD210814-062Counselling provided as part of St John of God Murdoch Social Outreach Services (previously the St John of God Murdoch Community Mental Health Service), will operate from a new location – 160 High Street, Fremantle from 2 December.

Ferns House at 62 Pakenham St, Fremantle closes on 27 November 2015.

Ferns Counselling Centre will continue to offer reliable, quality counselling services that is bulk billed or at minimal cost.

The centre provides short term counselling, psycho-education and psychological therapies for people 16 and over with common mental ill health such as depression, anxiety, trauma and grief.

We strive to have a no wrong door policy, so if we can’t help you we will look for a service that can.

If you would like to contact any of the Social Outreach Services or require information please contact:
160 High Street, Fremantle 6160
Telephone (08) 6226 9400
Fax 08 6226 9488

Temporary mobile during relocation 0448 604 266

Open Day brings fun and laughter

otteyThe South Lake Ottey Family and Neighbourhood Centre celebrated their 25th birthday in October with a fun-filled Open Day.

Regulars to the Centre enjoyed a sausage sizzle and birthday cake and activities such as laughter yoga, zumba, face painting and line dancing.

The South Lake Ottey Family and Neighbourhood Centre offers the local community a range of free programs such as health and wellbeing, mental health and welfare, arts and crafts and parenting. The programs cater to all community members, including Indigenous people, seniors, women, children and people with disabilities.

Every Wednesday the Centre offers the community a gold coin donation lunch.

As part of St John of God Murdoch Hospital’s Social Outreach Services, caregivers, Lee-Anne Mason and Kristy Mippy work as Social and Emotional Wellbeing Workers at the Centre to give support where it is needed in the local community.

New program helps mums connect with kids

St John of God Murdoch Raphael Centre, in partnership with the Fremantle Multicultural Centre, is providing a parenting program for culturally and linguistically diverse and refugee women.

Lani Saffer, project coordinator says the pilot program, Circle of Security, provides a supportive environment for women and their children to address any parenting concerns they might have.

“It is a relaxed and open environment in which these women can feel free to talk openly among the group,” Ms Saffer says.

“Parents learn key skills to help understand their child’s needs and emotions so that they can build secure relationships with their children.”

Most women are immigrants or refugees who may be experiencing post natal anxiety or depression. Some of the women have a limited knowledge of the English language and may have experienced some trauma.

“We hope this program can provide them with opportunities to enhance their relationship with their children,” Ms Saffer says.

The Mental Health Commission has awarded a grant to run the pilot program for six weeks. The sessions are held weekly at the Darius Wells Library and Resource Centre in Kwinana.

The program has been very well received by the families attending and will be evaluated to determine the need for continuing programs.


Making a move towards better mental health

???????????????????????????????St John of God Murdoch Community Mental Health supported Mental Health Week 2014 by organising an expressive arts working group at the Southlake Ottey Family and Neighbourhood Centre.

Manager Social Outreach and Advocacy Peta Wootton  said a group of people coming together to create art was a true reflection of what improving mental health is all about.

“Creating better mental health for ourselves is about maintaining our sense of individuality and values, whilst still coming together and contributing to the greater community,’’ said Ms Wooton.

Community members who attended the workshop added their individual touch to the final artwork, which was a painting of a bicycle.

“A bicycle was chosen as the theme for the artwork as Murdoch Community Mental Health is based in Fremantle,” said Ms Wooton.

“The bicycle is an iconic symbol in the area due to the large amount of cyclists in Fremantle.”

“Plus cycling reflects action, health, freedom and movement which all help to move towards a better mental health.”

The community artwork will be displayed along with other artworks at the Mental Health Week Art Exhibition October 3rd – 17th, YMCA HQ Leederville.


Celebrating a commitment to community

CEO John Fogarty, Sister Philomena Butler SSJG, Sister Vitalis Kilroy SSJG and Social Outreach and Advocacy Manager Peta Wootton.

CEO John Fogarty, Sister Philomena Butler SSJG, Sister Vitalis Kilroy SSJG and Social Outreach and Advocacy Manager Peta Wootton.

Murdoch Community Mental Health celebrated its tenth year of providing social, psychological and emotional health programs to the community with a function at its counselling centre in Fremantle in March.

St John of God Murdoch Hospital CEO John Fogarty said the Centre has much to be proud of as its services are well utilised and valued by the community.

“Ten years ago, a lack of mental health services for people in the Fremantle area was identified and the Fremantle Counselling Centre was opened,” said Mr Fogarty.

“What was created then has grown into something that is very much a part of the fabric of the community.”

The celebration gave those involved in the growth of Murdoch Community Mental Health a chance to reflect on the impact their mental health programs have had over the past ten years.

Social Outreach and Advocacy Manager Peta Wootton, who has been instrumental in the success of the service, said she was proud to be able to cater to the growing needs of the community.

“The service provides support for those who have difficulties with anxiety, depression, stress, adjustment and other aspects of mental health,” said Ms Wootton.

“We see individuals from the perinatal and infant period and adults from 16 years of age from the Fremantle, Melville and Cockburn areas.”

“We provide support and care that spans a person’s lifetime – from the young adult years through to palliative and bereavement counselling, and everything in between.”

St John of God Murdoch Hospital began funding the Fremantle Counselling Centre in 2004 to offer group and individual programs at little or no cost to those who are vulnerable or disadvantaged.

Over the past decade, the service has expanded to include outreach that supports young Aboriginal people at the South Lake Ottey Family and Neighbourhood Centre and the Cockburn Youth Centre and the Raphael service that engages pregnant women and new parents and their families.

The service outgrew its original premises in Henry Street and in 2011, moved to its current location in Pakenham Street in Fremantle now known as Ferns House.

In attendance were some of the Sisters of St John of God, St John of God Health Care CEO Dr Michael Stanford, the Reverend Sam Dinah, Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt and Mayor of Cockburn Logan Howlett, and members of local mental health organisations.


Taka’s trips to Tanzania improve community health

Taka Wild and one of the many patients she see on her trips to TanzaniaNurse Taka Wild has made it her mission to improve the health of a small rural community in Tanzania by helping to provide necessary surgery on her visits to the town of Mwanza.

The Registered Anaesthetic Nurse, who works at St John of God Murdoch Hospital, has just returned from her tenth trip to the town near Lake Victoria where she and a team of medical professionals perform operations on people with a variety of problems, including congenital defects, and severe oil and fire burns.

On this trip, the team of surgeons and nurses spent eight days at the local hospital and assessed 109 patients, many of whom were in desperate need of surgery.

Taka says the residents of the town are victims of both their isolation and their lifestyle.

“We are able to correct congenital defects such as cleft and lip palates where previously these people have shied away from society and have not had access to help,” said Taka.

“As cooking is done on an open fire, we also see a lot of burns and contractures where the burns haven’t healed properly.”

“The hospital is so far away and the medical officers at the clinic nearby don’t have the experience to help them with anything serious.”

Non-profit organisation Rafiki Surgical Missions provide logistical support for the trips and in her role as Missions Coordinator, Taka recruits and organises the surgical team and works as an Anaesthetic Nurse.

The team consisted of two plastic surgeons, two anaesthetists, five nurses and one physiotherapist.

Residents of the town hear about the visit from the Australian surgeons through radio advertisements, posters and flyers and word spreads like wildfire.

“The patients really need these operations to make their lives bearable,” said Taka. “They are so grateful to have surgery that is long overdue.”

These trips are always a grounding experience for Taka.

“Seeing what these people live with really makes you live your life differently,” said Taka.

“Their lives are so harsh and it is amazing to be able to help.”

Taka is getting organised for their next mission in April 2014.

A hand up, not a hand out

President St Vincent de Paul Mandurah Winston Rennick and Murdoch Hospital's Director of Mission Colin Keogh.

President St Vincent de Paul Mandurah Winston Rennick and Murdoch Hospital’s Director of Mission Colin Keogh.

St Vincent de Paul Mandurah, St John of God Murdoch Hospital’s Charity of the Year this year, is a well-known source of assistance for those in need of a helping hand in the Peel region.

The organisation provides advocacy, advice and referrals to their clients when they find themselves  bankrupt, being evicted, the victim of domestic violence or in other difficult situations.

President Winston Rennick said they have around 1,700 clients on their database with a wide range of issues, but homelessness is increasingly common.

“Around 300 people in Mandurah are sleeping rough on any given night,” said Mr Rennick.

“People are resorting to sleeping in their cars, under bridges and in parks – wherever they can find somewhere safe to spend the night.”

With up to 18 clients visiting each day, St Vincent de Paul is pushed to its limit in terms of capacity to provide their wide range of services.

“We are often stretched for money and goods to help people in their time of need,” said Mr Rennick. “The funds from Murdoch Hospital will help a great deal.”

“We have 17 part time volunteers and a paid financial counsellor who provide emergency relief counselling, act as advocates and refer clients to the appropriate organisation for help,” said Mr Rennick.

“Our soup kitchen often provides our clients with the only meal they will eat in the day and we offer food vouchers, parcels and emergency supplies when needed.”

St Vincent de Paul also has a truck that picks up donations of furniture and other household items.

Murdoch Hospital’s Director of Mission Colin Keogh said it is wonderful for the hospital to be able to help a charity that is so critical to its local area.

“St Vincent de Paul provides an enormous amount of support to the Mandurah area,” said Mr Keogh. “Without their expert advice and assistance, there are many people who would be in even worse situations, so we are looking forward to being able to contribute to their vital work.”

Rewarding experience for outreach worker

Kristy with other pilgrims on the steps they helped build in the town of Pamplona.

Kristy with other pilgrims on the steps they helped build in the town of Pamplona.

St John of God Murdoch Hospital Social Outreach Worker Kristy Mippy had the experience of a lifetime joining thousands of other young people at this year’s World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro and Peru.

An outreach worker for Murdoch Community Mental Health based at Cockburn Youth Centre and  Ottey Family and Neighbourhood Centre, Kristy helps those in need in our local communities with support and advocacy, but World Youth Day presented her with an opportunity to help those in need abroad.

“Primarily, World Youth Day is about young people from all over the world coming together to deepen their faith, but there is also a component that involves mission work, which really interested me,” said Kristy.

Having never been outside Australia, Kristy said her trip was rewarding, but challenging at times and an eye opener to poverty in Peru.

“The town of Pamplona has power, but no running water. It really made me realise how lucky we are to have the wide range of services and support that we do.”

Kristy and 40 other pilgrims helped build a staircase to enable the residents of Pamplona to be recognised as a community and give them access to government assistance.

“It is critical for a community to have its own staircase in order to be eligible for help with basic amenities,” said Kristy. “It was a really amazing experience working alongside the locals to build it.”

Kristy also spent seven days in Rio where she joined in activities with other pilgrims and listened to the Pope speak about faith and contemporary issues.

“It was inspiring to hear him speak on issues that are relevant to young people around the world,” said Kristy. “At the Coca cabana, he closed World Youth Day by announcing the next Youth Day is to be held in Poland in 2016.”

“I am very thankful to St John of God Health Care for supporting me on this journey,” said Kristy. “I really am a changed person after this experience and am determined not to take all our comforts for granted.”

Midwife’s enriching experience in Tanzania

Narelle with the women in Tanzania.

Narelle with the women in Tanzania.

St Mary’s Ward Midwife Narelle Tunks reports on her experience of the Global Health Alliance Western Australia (GHAWA) program, teaching Obstetric Emergency Courses to the local nurses and midwives of Tanzania.

It is the most amazing experience, with the aim of the courses to reduce the devastatingly high mortality and morbidity rates of mothers and their babies.

The challenges that these African nurses and midwives face on a daily basis cannot even be imagined from the comforts of a hospital such as Murdoch. They have minimal resources, poor education, huge patient numbers, severe staff shortages, and women and babies that are sicker than we could even imagine due to their extremely limited access to basic health care.

Despite these constant challenges, the nurses and midwives we work with are so keen to learn and make a change. Their enthusiasm is infectious! It is amazing to walk onto the wards and see them implementing the skills and knowledge that we have taught them, and we have seen great improvement in the outcomes for mothers and their babies.

I would not have been able to be part of such a fantastic program without the endless support, help and encouragement from St John of God Murdoch Hospital. Thank you for allowing me to follow my dreams and pursue this incredible opportunity.