Quorrobolong-based organisation Heal For Life Foundation has been recognised for its work in encouraging survivors of child abuse and trauma to volunteer to help other survivors to heal.
The foundation received an award for consumer involvement and engagement at the Mental Health Matters – an initiative of the Mental Health Association of NSW and the NSW Mental Health Commission.
The award was presented at a ceremony at NSW Parliament House attended by the Governor of NSW Marie Bashir and the NSW Minister for Mental Health, Kevin Humphries on October 1 to mark the launch of Mental Health Month.
Heal For Life CEO and founder Liz Mullinar said it was rewarding to see the foundation’s unique peer support model recognised for the role it plays in improving survivors’ mental health.
She said Heal For Life was successful in helping people to heal from trauma because it is trained survivors who are helping clients during residential healing weeks.
“Research shows that the vast majority of people with a mental illness have experienced some form of childhood trauma,” Ms. Mullinar said.
“Our model is a cost effective way of helping people to heal from their mental illness rather than just manage or medicate it.”
In her acceptance speech Ms. Mullinar urged for the word “healing” to be placed into the debate now ensuing about how to best support people coming forward through the various royal commissions into childhood and institutional abuse.
“We need more funding for services, not just Heal For Life, but services that help people to become survivors rather than victims,” she said.
Research into Heal For Life’s programs, using nationally recognised mental health measures, shows that six months after attending a five-day Heal For Life program, the likelihood of the participants having a severe mental health disorder almost halved (46 per cent), and almost 80 per cent of participants had lower levels of psychological distress.
“We need a new approach to the management and treatment of mental illness in Australia,” Ms. Mullinar said.
Despite no ongoing government funding, Heal For Life Foundation has helped more than 5500 people since it was established in 1999.
It offers training for organisations and health professionals as well as phone support and residential programs for survivors from its Mayumarri centre at Quorrobolong as well as centres in Western Australia, the United Kingdom and from 2014 in The Philippines.