Applications open for new community mental health funding

Community organisations can now apply for funding to employ new workers to help people with mental illness, including by helping them find and keep a job.

Funding is available for about 230 new community mental health workers under the next stage of the Australian Government’s $154 million expansion of its successful Personal Helpers and Mentors initiative.

The new personal helpers and mentors will include workers to provide intensive support to people with mental illness on income support, to help them tackle social and personal barriers preventing them from finding and keeping a job.

The new workers will work one-on-one with people to help them to search for and apply for jobs, attend interviews, train for work and start a new job.

We invite community organisations with experience in providing support services for people with mental illness to apply for funding.

Having a job and participating in the community makes a big difference in the lives of people with mental illness. It helps provide a sense of purpose and pride and makes people feel connected to family, friends and the wider community.

This latest round of funding will increase the number of mental health workers in more than 40 communities across the country with identified high needs for support or low service coverage, for example Burnie in Tasmania and Blacktown in New South Wales.

The Personal Helpers and Mentors initiative has been running since 2007 and has helped more than 21,000 people with mental illness.

Personal helpers and mentors provide one-on-one practical support to people with severe mental illness to set and achieve personal goals, including finding stable housing and improving relationships with family and friends. They also connect with essential services, including housing and health professionals.

By building people’s confidence and increasing their participation in all aspects of community life, personal helpers and mentors help participants overcome the social isolation that can be so crippling for someone with a mental illness. 

This investment is part of the Gillard Government’s unprecedented $2.2 billion investment in mental health services, announced in May 2011.

The Government is continuing to deliver on its promise to make mental health a priority so that more Australians with mental illness are getting the care and support they need, when they need it.

A 2011 evaluation of Government community mental health initiatives, including Personal Helpers and Mentors, found our investments in services are improving the lives of people with mental illness across regional and metropolitan Australia.

People using these services reported better health and wellbeing, better coping skills, and more confidence. Many were also less isolated and had better relationships with family and friends.

For more information, or to apply for funding, visit: www.fahcsia.gov.au/grants-funding/current-funding

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