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Making a difference with mental health

When Lincoln Abraham reached out for support to deal with his own mental health challenges in 2018, it led him on an important life journey of study, and now work, to help others in need of support.

Lincoln, 28, completed work placement at St Bart’s Swan Community Recovery Village, supporting 25 residents with mental health challenges who were also at risk of becoming homeless before joining St Bart’s.

The work placement opportunity came about as a result of a partnership between St Bart’s and the Marr Mooditj Aboriginal Training Corporation, based in Bentley. Through the partnership signed in late 2019, St Bart’s has already supported three Aboriginal students wanting practical experience as part of their studies.

Now that Lincoln has completed his Certificate IV in Mental Health, and his Diploma in Mental Health with Marr Mooditj, he is planning to take the next step to study psychology at Curtin University to increase his level of qualifications.

Since reaching out to Headspace in 2018 when he became worried about his own mental safety, Lincoln has been able to support his peers when kicking a footy around an oval in Midland, and now others through his work placement experience.

He has discovered he has a knack for engaging with people and establishing trust.

About his own earlier challenges with mental health issues, Lincoln said: “At the time, I did not understand what was going on – I was just upset and depressed and I know now that it was just because of a lack of knowledge. I learned that I needed to be patient, control only what I could control, slow things down and just take it one day at a time.”

He said after that, he could see those signs of distress in his peers and could support them with how to connect to help. And the positive feedback set him on a new course.

“The boys said I was really good to yarn to and that was the biggest boost. I don’t want people to go through that (pain) so I decided to do something about it.”

Lincoln said the best opportunity to engage with the residents at Swan was when he was doing the medication rounds in the morning and he got to chat with residents and have a yarn. He also liked the St Bart’s Midland accommodation unit because it was communal living and he found it easier to connect with people.

“The work placement has been a great opportunity to put the things I have learned into practice and now I have got work with Spartan and plan to go to university.”

Spartan, set up by former Brisbane and Dockers player Des Headland, provides occupational health services and has also launched a new mental health support line for Aboriginal people.

Wanda – Swan Community Recovery Village Manager, says:
“I feel privileged to be able to mentor students from Marr Mooditj and share the recovery approach and trauma informed awareness with them. The students have been very open and engaged throughout their placements and have demonstrated their natural ability to connect with consumers who live at the Swan and Midland services.

The compassion and understanding shown by the students has had a positive impact on staff and consumers alike, which has also increased the students’ confidence.

I have established a genuine partnership of mutual appreciation with Marr Mooditj. Our liaison is robust, mutually beneficial for St Bart’s and Marr Mooditj, and I envision a long-term collaborative connection that will continue to support students and consumers in trauma informed awareness.”

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