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Success for students with mental illness Joy Sharpe Outreach Coordinator Shoalhaven.

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Presentation on theme: "Success for students with mental illness Joy Sharpe Outreach Coordinator Shoalhaven."— Presentation transcript:

1 Success for students with mental illness Joy Sharpe Outreach Coordinator Shoalhaven

2 Access to Horticulture 9071 Certificate I in Access to Work and Training Jim Da Silva Farm West Nowra 2 days / week for 18 weeks Horticulture electives and employability skills units Units are chosen to suit the work to be done and the students ’ interests and needs

3 Helping hands mosaic made by students

4 A partnership between St Vincent De Paul Society Helping Hands – a project of the Schizophrenia Foundation TAFE Horticulture and Outreach TAFE Teacher Consultants Equity With input and assistance from Illawarra brain Injury Service, Flagstaff ( Disability Employment Provider)


6 Key People – the driving force Kelly Upton – TAFE Teacher Katy Smith -Helping Hands Coordinator Steve Sweeney - Jim Da Silva Farm Manager Ninu Sethi – teacher Consultant Psychiatric Disabilities The students

7 Kelly, Katy and Steve

8 History TAFE have been running a Cert II in Horticulture for a couple of years at the farm in partnership with Helping Hands Funding has been sourced from a variety of local, state and federal Govt departments for infrastructure Kelly has developed the plan for the garden and students and volunteers have created the garden Outreach has been involved from semester 2, 2008 using the Cert I to provide a pathway into Cert II in Horticulture


10 The students 12 enrolled All have disabilities – some more than one Mental illness, brain injury, physical disability, learning disability 9 men and 3 women Late teens to 50 ’ s


12 Positives A peaceful, beautiful learning environment Learning by doing Assessment on the job Support from teacher consultants Team work from coordinator, teachers, teacher consultants, support teachers


14 Practical support All students have interview with teacher consultants Plans in place including strategies for dealing with health issues Teleconference with all TC after first week Teacher also studying Cert IV in Mental Health Support workers from Helping Hands and other agencies involved Additional teacher funded by TC, LLN learner support for one student



17 People in all our classes are struggling with mental health WOW class held at Family support 6 regulars – all have experienced depression, anxiety and drug and alcohol A supportive environment has broken down the stigma and allowed for discussion and sharing

18 Students ’ suggestions to make the learning environment positive for learners with mental illness Don ’ t be judgemental Make people feel equal and comfortable Recognise what people know Treat everyone the same Don ’ t make a big thing about the mental illness Don ’ t ask people to share- wait till they feel comfortable Everyone be aware of confidentiality Be careful of the language we use

19 Helpful strategies Bringing the Counsellor and Teacher Consultant in to run relaxation and stress management sessions Talk about learning and memory strategies Talk about counselling services

20 Dealing with anxiety Allow people to go for a walk or get out of the class room if they feel anxious or stressed Provide plenty of toilet paper Teach stress management strategies – breathing,rubber band on wrist Change our self talk “ I find it difficult ” not “ I can ’ t ”

21 Sensitivity Understand the side effects of drugs and how they impact on learning, concentration,memory Be aware that remarks or discussions can trigger past trauma Follow up incidents where someone gets upset Let people know that they can come back to the course when things get better – they haven ’ t failed Understand that some people don ’ t want to disclose because of stigma

22 My personal view Balance an understanding of the devastation and loss of mental illness with a sense of hope and expectation of recovery Focus on the person not the problem Normalisation Mental health is a continuum

23 Resources Mental Health First Aid (Professional Development) Video: Angels and Demons active/angelsanddemons/ active/angelsanddemons/ Beyond Blue the National Depression initiative SANE Australia

24 discussion Share your positive experiences with students with mental illness What are the success factors? What are the helpful support strategies? What is your action plan?

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