A recent conference provided the WA mental health professionals the opportunity to share their hopes for the sector this coming year.
Better funding, greater collaboration and a recognition of the value of lived experience were at the top of the New Year wish list when delegates at the WA Association of Mental Health Conference were asked to write down their greatest hope for the mental health sector.
Throughout the two-day conference at Optus Stadium, hosted in November, Hope Community Services (HOPE) invited delegates to write down their thoughts on a tag and tie it on to our Tree of Hope.
Better funding was one of the biggest hopes for the sector, however delegates also expressed their hopes around the recognition of lived experience.
“Funding is always an issue in the mental health sector,” said Helen Mitchell, HOPE Chief Officer for Growth and Innovation. “However, there is an obvious desire for our mental health sector to better recognise the value of lived experience.
“This goes beyond simply asking about a client’s experience, it is about listening, taking time to understand and then using those understandings and learnings to improve services.”
Ms Mitchell noted HOPE was in the early stages of building a workforce of peer workers that would support clients on their journey. That work would continue into the new year.
“We welcome that lived experience and we recognise the value and the importance peer workers and others with lived experience, and how they can enhance the programs and services that we offer to our clients,” she said.
Access a key challenge
When asked what the greatest problem facing the mental health sector was, nearly one-quarter of respondents listed access, with access to regional services and culturally sensitive services noted as particular problems in WA.
“Mental health professionals and service users alike continue to be concerned about access to access to appropriate and timely services,” Ms Mitchell noted.
“It’s up to us as services providers to look at the existing gaps in and the barriers to access, and find new ways to enable those who need our services to access them.”
“Service delivery needs to be client-centric, and at HOPE we are always looking at ways to improve and adapt our services to make sure the people who need them can get them”.