CatholicCare awarded for working to tackle mental illness

Social Worker Julie Webster was recognised for her work with RECOVER Wellbeing at the 2016 ZEST Community Sector Awards.
Julie Webster is congratulated by Zest Ambassador Dr Jim Taggart. Photo: Zest .

Posted on 10 March 2016

CatholicCare Social Worker Julie Webster was inspired to train to become a facilitator of Black Dog Institute’s REACH program for people with depression and bipolar disorder after she observed the positive changes the course had made for a loved one living with bipolar.

In February this year, Julie won an award for her work with RECOVER Wellbeing at the 2016 ZEST Community Sector Awards.

RECOVER Wellbeing started with Julie running the Black Dog Institute’s REACH program – a nine-week psycho-educational wellbeing group (based on the principles of responsibility, education, acceptance, connection and hope) to help participants with depression or bipolar disorder manage their illness and stay well.

CCSS - Recover Wellbeing - Head Image Artwork

Julie ran multiple REACH groups during the pilot year in 2014 and was propelled to build on this by a tide of demand from participants who had benefited and were eager to see more opportunities for people living with mental health challenges, to stay connected in a recovery oriented environment.

RECOVER Wellbeing was born, providing pathways to positive mental wellbeing through a combination of education, social activities and Peer Led recovery groups in accordance with the principles of REACH.

CatholicCare Director Cathy Tracey said: “Julie and her team, with the support of CatholicCare Social Services and local mental health services, have worked beyond and above, tirelessly pursuing every opportunity to see RECOVER Wellbeing develop so that as many people as possible can benefit from opportunities for renewed wellbeing.”

RECOVER Wellbeing has since received more than $300,000 in funding to operate in the Hills, Blacktown and Nepean/Blue Mountains, including a culturally specific Aboriginal program at Emerton.

The program comprises REACH groups, a range of monthly professionally facilitated/peer led support groups and various social interest groups. Groups include CREATE 4 Wellbeing (art and craft classes), WALK 4 Wellbeing, GET TOGETHER 4 Wellbeing, SPLASH and DRUM 4 Wellbeing.

Julie believes it’s the combination of professional support, social inclusion and informal camaraderie between participants that makes the program so appealing and beneficial for people living with mental distress.

Several participants have gone on to benefit and recover to such an extent that they are now Peer Group Leaders for CatholicCare. Others have re-entered the workforce, or pursued further studies.

For more information on RECOVER Wellbeing call CatholicCare Social Services Head Office tel (02) 8822 2222.

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