Unique partnership transforming lives of people living with mental illness

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Local not-for-profit Momentum Collective has teamed up with the University of Newcastle’s Department of Rural Health to help people recovering from mental illness rebuild their lives and connect to their local community.

Partnership transforms lives of people living with mental illness

Following a successful trial in 2018, occupational therapy students from the University of Newcastle have spent the past eight weeks working with clients at Momentum Collective’s residential rehabilitation program in Coffs Harbour.

Stuart Nunan, Momentum Collective Regional Manager, said the unique partnership highlighted the importance of allied health services and partnerships with Community Management Organisations to people recovering from a mental illness.

“We work with people who are transitioning from acute mental health services or those experiencing stigmatism and isolation because of their mental health.

“The occupational therapy students, together with a student from the University of Newcastle’s nutrition and dietetics course, have provided our clients with an additional level of support and care, helping them to re-establish daily life skills such as healthy cooking and cleaning and get back to doing the things that make them happy,” Mr Nunan said.

“Partnerships like this one help us provide our clients with the wraparound support and education they need to live their best life.”

Occupational therapy students Anna Doyle and Skye Rattenbury said the placement with Momentum Collective had been invaluable.

“It’s really challenged us to work independently and create programs that suit the individual needs of our clients,” Ms Rattenbury said.

“It’s given me the confidence to work with people living with a mental illness, to identify signs and symptoms of mental illness, and to develop a wholistic program for our clients.”

The clients were able to direct the students in areas that they needed help, in areas such as budgeting, relationship building, and in the kitchen.

“Cooking was brought up a lot as a skill that everyone wanted to improve, so we made a cookbook that everyone could use and help give them the confidence they needed in the kitchen.”

Ms Doyle said her time at the Momentum Collective helped open her eyes to more job options when she finished her degree.

“Before this placement I hadn’t considered a career in mental health but now I am. There’s so much more potential to work with clients on a one-on-one basis and cater to an individual’s needs,” Ms Doyle said.

Head of the University of Newcastle’s Department Rural Health, Professor Jenny May, said innovative student placements aid in addressing a gap in occupational therapy services in the local community.

“The collaboration with Momentum Collective has given our students a unique opportunity to put their skills into practice in a mental health setting and equip them with vital knowledge and experience,” Professor May said.

“Going forward, we’d like to work with Momentum Collective to create an interdisciplinary placement program, incorporating all aspects of allied health from occupational therapy to speech pathology, nutrition and dietetics and physiotherapy.”


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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.