Volunteers breakdown barriers

Jo Phillips, Judy Weinert.

Jo Phillips, Judy Weinert.

For some people, the simple task of going to the post office to pay bills or get to the gym can be fraught with anxiety and fear.

This is where - through the Mental Health Volunteer Program - patients with chronic mental illness have benefited from a group of about eight volunteers to move forward in their lives.

A partnership between Clare Medical Centre and Clare Valley Christian Outreach has seen the successful Mental Health Volunteer Program celebrate 10 years.

CMC mental health nurse Betsy Stewart was one of the people behind the development of the program - along with John Wallace, the late Lynton Phillips and the late Ron Weinert.

Ms Stewart said there was no support for those people who had chronic mental health illnesses and the formation of this group allowed for that to happen.

She said one thing that happened when people suffered these illnesses was their world decreased and they became isolated.

To have someone walk alongside and support another while pushing through barriers and knowing they were there was sometimes all it took to make a difference, Ms Stewart said.

"It's to help people engage with the community who felt disconnected," Ms Stewart said.

It was agreed to approach CVCO to form a partnership and the group formed and has since blossomed.

CVCO's Graham Jenkin manages the volunteers who have all had mental health first aid training.

"It has been a good and successful partnership over the years."

"Once people get the confidence to be willing to have a go, it's amazing what they can achieve," Ms Stewart said.

CVCO and CMC celebrated the 10 year partnership with its volunteers and widows Jo Phillips and Judy Weinert cut the cake.