Jesuit Social Services recently launched the new home of its Western Metro Mental Health and Wellbeing Connect centre in Sunshine.

This free of charge service offers a range of supports for family, carers, kin and supporters of people who are experiencing mental health and substance use challenges, and is the outcome of a key recommendation from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System (2021).

In 2023, Jesuit Social Services was selected by the Victorian Government to run one of the eight Mental Health and Wellbeing Connect programs in Victoria, and since then has grown to already be supporting over 100 participants.

At the launch, Jesuit Social Services CEO Julie Edwards said the organisation’s decades of work with people experiencing disadvantage demonstrated the invaluable work families and carers play.

“We’ve learnt how often families and carers are left out of the picture, their needs are not understood, recognised and responded to. We’re delighted that the Royal Commission really did acknowledge that and we congratulate the Victorian Government for acting on that with the establishment of Mental Health and Wellbeing Connect centres,” she said.

Western Metro Mental Health and Wellbeing Connect offers information, resources, counselling, individual support, group programs and other supports to those who care for others with mental health and substance use issues, with no need for a referral.

“We’re building a mental health care ecosystem in Victoria by addressing the recommendations in the Royal Commission, and we are proud to be a part of this next step in providing better care,” said Ms Edwards.

A complete renovation of the building was undertaken to provide a for-purpose building. The design process also involved engagement with a community reference group made up of Western suburb locals who represent a variety of caring relationships. It is a calm, welcoming and safe space for carers to visit, and also features a therapeutic garden specially designed by Jesuit Social Services’ Ecological Justice Hub.

“Along with putting a lot of thought into the design of the centre, it was really important to have this service staffed by people with lived experience, who can better understand what a carer might be experiencing and how they can best help,” said Western Metro Mental Health and Wellbeing Connect Manager Nick Pace.

“We aim to remove as many barriers as possible for carers to access their own support, as we know that they’re often limited in time and resources to dedicate to themselves.”

The Western Metro Mental Health and Wellbeing Connect is open from 9am Monday to Friday and 10am Saturdays, as well as Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Getting in contact is as simple as picking up the phone or sending an email.

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