Paulette Belcastro has been in the mental health referral and access team for CAREinMIND™ and Head to Health since the program began 7 years ago.
It’s a role, she says, that she has always enjoyed.
“The mental health system can be difficult to navigate and this can be a barrier for people seeking support,” she explains.
“It can also be a nerve-wracking experience for someone who is already stressed. The system is often busy and there can be limited time for a professional to metaphorically walk with someone until they are with linked in with a person who can support them in the longer term.
“This role provides this important step in recovery. It can also be the first time a person has reached out for help, and if this is a positive experience for people, then it can be a relief and a therapeutic experience in itself.”
Paulette brings an enormous amount of experience to her role. A registered psychologist, she joined NWMPHN after more than a decade in the public system, working across child and youth mental health, alcohol and other drugs, and the disability sector.
This means, she says, that by the time she joined she had already “built up a range of skills to assist people to navigate systems and services.”
A very important element of those skills are the ones that enable her to cope with the stress and impacts of the role itself. The team itself, she notes, is important in this regard. Members act as supports for each other.
And away from the work station?
“I like to do some light exercise, like walking,” she says.
“This is great head space. I also find knitting and crochet to be excellent ways to challenge yourself, create, give gifts and just zone out for a while with a good audio-book or podcast.”
And if she could introduce a reform into the system, what would it be?
“The big concern at the moment is accessibility,” she says. “It is hard to see someone without a waitlist at the moment.”
GPs and other health and community service professionals can refer anyone experiencing mental ill health to our referral and access team. Our clinicians review referrals and allocate them to the most clinically appropriate service – regardless of who funds or provides it.