Therapies — 01 November 2016

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An innovative Wesley Mission program helping mothers with severe and complex mental health needs to remain with their young children will continue its ground-breaking work following the NSW Government’s announcement to refund it for a further three years.

Minister for Mental Health Pru Goward said the NSW Government had committed $9 million to ensure Wesley Mission’s Mums and Kids Matter program would continue to provide residential based care at Sadleir in south-west Sydney.

Since it began in 2014 the program has cared for and supported 73 mothers and their children.

“Mums and Kids Matter is a one-of-a kind program directly helping women with severe and complex mental illness and their families. There is no program like it operating in Australia,” Ms Goward said during a visit to the program.

“A key aspect of Mums and Kids Matter is the focus it has on addressing not only the health and parenting needs of participants but also the social, economic and accommodation issues facing mothers with severe mental illness and their families. In fact, our early data shows just how fantastic this program is. When they entered Mums and Kids Matter, 12 per cent of the mothers were homeless and a further 28 per cent were at risk of homelessness. On exit from the program all mothers were housed.”

Mums and Kids Matter delivers individually tailored, holistic, family-focused care and support to address the complex mental and physical health, parenting support, accommodation, vocation/education, disability and other co-morbidity needs of mothers with mental illness and their young children.

The CEO of Wesley Mission the Rev Dr Keith Garner said Wesley Mission was delighted that funding for the program had been continued.

“Mums and Kids Matter has been a wonderful example of collaboration between government and non-government specialist providers so that mothers with mental health issues have the opportunity to recover while being with their children,” Dr Garner said.

“The program is unique in that it provides an integrated approach to treatment and care that includes medical/biological, psychological, social and values based approaches. It also draws from the many support services of Wesley Mission such as such as accommodation support when leaving the program, financial counselling, life skills and mental health support and counsel.

“Mums and Kids Matter is not just a parenting program, although improving mother-child relationships and the ability to parent are key elements. This is a program that addresses the complex needs of mothers with a severe mental illness, in order to improve their quality of life, care giving and family relationships.

“The program is preventing hospitalisation, reducing the risk of homelessness, while also providing assistance to improve their social and economic outcomes of mothers and their children.”

Wesley Mission provided more than 107,000 nights of accommodation to people who are homeless last year. It provides a suite of mental health, suicide prevention services (such as Lifeline and Wesley LifeForce), counselling services across Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, and two hospitals which provide a range of mental health services.

 This piece was first seen on ‘Christian Today’ on October 31, 2016.

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