'Urgent need' for new drop-in centre

“NOT so much a handout as a hand up on the road to recovery for people experiencing mental illness.” That was how Barbara Swain, of Lismore's Mental Health Support Group, described the services her group provides.

Mrs Swain was addressing a forum held yesterday at the Lismore Neighbourhood Centre as part of Mental Health Week.

The support group started in 1995 with Mrs Swain making up toiletry packs for inpatients at the Richmond Clinic. Now it has more than 30 volunteers.

“We act as a safety net between people who access formal mental health services and those who are living with mental illness in their own homes,” Mrs Swain said.

Her presentation included unveiling a proposal for a drop-in centre to provide a safe place for Lismore people with mental illness to socialise and access services.

The centre would cater for anyone aged 16 or older, including the homeless, elderly or those who are simply lonely. It would provide facilities for meals, showers, leisure activities, counselling and health care services.

Mrs Swain said the concept of a drop-in centre was supported by the many agencies that dealt with mental health issues in the district.

“There is a strong consensus that it is urgently needed, and I'm getting really good vibes that it is going to happen,” she said.


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