Politics — 17 May 2017
Tim Blizzard, 57, of Goodwood was a participant in Baptcare's MIcare program and is happy it will receive funding from the State Government. Picture: LUKE BOWDEN

Tim Blizzard, 57, of Goodwood was a participant in Baptcare’s MIcare program and is happy it will receive funding from the State Government. Picture: LUKE BOWDEN

THE Mental Health Council of Tasmania has applauded $16 million in extra funding for the sector to be included in next week’s State Budget.

Health Minister Michael Ferguson announced the package would include $11.4 million for packages of care for vulnerable Tasmanians through providers Baptcare and Life Without Barriers over the next four years.

It’s out in the community where recovery happens, not the hospital — people prosper and thrive out in their own community”

A further $1.8 million over three years will go to early intervention and referral services to help prevent suicide through Anglicare and $525,000 will continue grassroots mental health support.

“We want people’s journey to be one of recovery and hope — not one of feeling that nobody cares or there’s not hope,” Mr Ferguson said.

Mental Health Council chief executive Connie Digolis said it would have a significant impact on the community.

“It’s out in the community where recovery happens, not the hospital — people prosper and thrive out in their own community,” she said.

“This is exactly the type of services that are needed and it’s about being able to provide long term results for people to be as independent as they can be.”

Tim Blizzard’s life was on a downward spiral just 18 months ago. The 57-year-old from Goodwood had been battling mental health demons for 15 years leading up to him attempting to take his life in December, 2015.

Mr Blizzard is one of about 300 Tasmanians who have turned their lives around through Baptcare’s MIcare program.

MIcare was previously funded by the Federal Government and aims to help people out of the hospital system and into the community.

Baptcare service manager for mental health Debra Fast said one in three people who had accessed the program no longer needed ongoing mental health services.

“Each person’s program is unique to them as their illness, history and living situations are so different,” she said.

“Their goals may include becoming a more active member of the local community, physical health and healthy eating or more secure accommodation.”

Mr Blizzard said he was referred to the MIcare program after spending three months in the Royal Hobart Hospital’s inpatient mental health unit.

“At the time I just couldn’t see a way out, I’d made so many bad choices in my life,” he said.

“Baptcare have helped me every step of the way. All I had to do was tell them what I needed and they facilitated it.”

Mr Blizzard now has stable employment as a disability support worker and uses his love for music as an outlet. He has just released his first album I Guess I’ve Changed My Ways.

“I’d really like to go somewhere with my music, but I might be a bit old for it, but I’ll keep going — I’m busking and it’s helped me gain my confidence back,” Mr Blizzard said.

“I hope to stay well and have a continuing relationship with my children and family into the future.”

Support is available at Lifeline 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au.

This piece was originally seen on ‘The Mercury’ May 15 2017.

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