McAuley Community Services for Women (McAuley) has been working with CAREinMIND mental health services to deliver much needed counselling services to women who are homeless due to family violence and mental illness.
Through funding delivered through the Targeted Psychological Support Services (TPSS) program, McAuley has been able to employ a mental health practitioner who works on location with the organisation to provide specialist psychological intervention and support to women and children across the organisation’s three key programs: McAuley House (short-medium term support for women at risk of homelessness), McAuley Care (family violence service) and McAuley Works (employment service).
Since the implementation of this program, McAuley has seen the number of women and children engaging in mental health support increase. This has largely been due to the program enabling the organisation to offer increased access to counselling support, but also the capacity to have a mental health practitioner located onsite at the service, easing the access to this service.
Women and children engaged in McAuley’s programs are able to engage directly with the mental health practitioner within the familiarity of the service delivery environment, as well as schedule sessions close to other activities delivered at this service such as children’s activities for women who are mothers. This is having a direct and positive impact on outcomes that women are identifying for themselves, such as finding housing and employment, both of which enable them to break to cycle of disadvantage.
Further to this, having this mental health worker located within the service and integrated within the service delivery team allows for some familiarity with the mental health worker so that when crisis or difficulty arises, there is already a relationship established which can prevent the situation escalating. There has been an enthusiastic uptake of the service provided by the mental health worker and feedback from the clients is that the service provided is helpful and supportive.
The relationship that the mental health worker has with the clients both through informal interactions and being part of the team at McAuley has meant that consultation with outside organisations, such as the area mental health team, child protection, and schools, further supports the women and children to work through the multiple traumas that are barriers to recovery. Feedback from the case managers working with women in crisis is that the mental health practitioner is the only family violence sensitive therapist that they are able to refer to due to overwhelming demand for services.
Disclaimer: This article was provided by McAuley Community Services for Women. While every effort has been made to ensure the information is accurate, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network does not warrant or represent the accuracy, currency and completeness of any information or material included within.