Are you living in Western Australia?
Are you or your partner experiencing mental health problems or mental illness?
Do you need some support?
This page offers information on strategies to get help yourself or for your family if you’re a parent with a mental illness. It also provides details of services that are COPMI-specific within WA or are related to mental health and may be able to provide some assistance.
Western Australia and mental health
What does mental health look like in WA?
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Western Australia (WA) covers a total of 2,529, 875 square km, which makes up a third of all of Australia. The majority of people live in and around the Perth metropolitan region with the rest of the population focused along the coast line and towards the south of WA.
This distribution is the same for mental health services as most are based in the Perth metropolitan region, with regional services more present along coastal towns and in the south west of WA. 33.3% of all WA residents are born overseas which is the highest proportion compared with the other Australian states and territories.
Mental Health in WA
In WA the majority of people are connected with the mining industry, which by 2015 will provide 57% of WA jobs. This is an important demographic as one in three Fly-In-Fly-Out/Drive-In-Drive-Out (FIFO/DIDO) workers will have a mental illness each year. This is an increase from the national average of one in five people experiencing a mental illness. A recent report by the Ombudsman into the Youth Suicides in WA found that 33% of the suicides explored were conducted by youth with parents known to have a mental illness, making parental mental illness a significant factor in WA Youth suicides.
It is also important to remember that although the majority of the WA population live in and around the Perth metropolitan region, the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (ATSI) in WA live outside these regions. These residential facts are important as ATSI are at an increased risk of developing a mental illness due to intergenerational trauma and social factors. Therefore ensuring services and information reach the communities outside the Perth metropolitan region is paramount in effectively providing for COPMI families and the communities in which they live.
Things that can help
What can we do to help our family?
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If you are new to the family mental illness experience, or are looking for further information and support in this area there are a few simple first steps that may assist you.
There are many ways to get information including becoming a FREE member with support services such as Carers WA, Arafmi WA and Parenting WA. This provides you with free newsletters and helps you to keep informed about what is going on in WA. Other services you may wish to become a member of include From the Heart WA, Grandparents rearing grandchildren WA and Kidsmatter WA. WA will be launching a WA-specific COPMI website shortly which provides WA information, resources and access to services and supports within WA specifically. Other ways to get information include connecting with services and attending training.
Connect with services
Contact Arafmi WA, Wanslea, CLAN, MIFWA, the Richmond Fellowship WA, Carers WA or other support services, to discuss your situation and get ideas about what may help your specific situation. This may include:
- meeting other people going through similar experiences at support groups
- respite opportunities where you can take time out
- services to support your children
- services that support and educate you and your family about mental illness and how to overcome the stresses that you may experience
- education regarding looking after your mental health.
Get financial support
Access financial opportunities you are entitled to such as:
- carers payments/allowance through Centrelink
- free respite opportunities
- funding grants provided through the Department of Sports and Recreation and Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres (CRCC).
Fill out a Family Care Plan
A care plan is a back-up plan about what is to happen if a parent or caregiver needs hospitalisation or is temporarily unable to provide the care they normally do. See the templates available via the links below that can be filled out by you and your family. Alternatively there are support services that can help run through things with you and give you information and access to other supports that may be good to include in your Family Care Plan. Services that can assist with this include Wanslea, and MIFWA.
- Family Care Plan (complete as whole family)
- Care Plan for Kids and Young People (parents to help complete with young people)
- Baby Care Plan (parent to complete on wishes for their baby)
There are various ways to be recognised by services as a carer or family member of someone with mental illness. Sometimes your situation may mean that a carer or other family members need to act on your behalf (such as when your mental health is low). For hospitals this needs to be raised with the hospital staff at admission, or as soon as possible. This allows the carer and family to be part of review and discharge meetings and obtain and receive information about the person receiving services.
For services such as Centerlink and the Department of Housing and Works (Homeswest) this can be achieved by becoming an ‘authorised’ person which allows you to receive information and act on another person’s behalf. In other cases a more formal Guardianship or Enduring Power of Attorney order may be needed. Speaking to a support service (particularly a Carer Advocate) can help you get information about what may be useful in your situation. Arafmi WA and Carers WA both have Carer Advocates you can speak with.
Mental health education in WA
How can we learn more about strengthening our family’s mental health?
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Programs run by services cover such things as ambiguous loss and grief, how to manage aggression and information about mental illnesses and caring. Some of these programs are able to come out to schools and workplaces. Below is a list of some specific education programs that are available in WA.
SMILES (Simplifying Mental Illness and Life Enhancement Skills)
Run by Arafmi WA, the SMILES program is provided to young carers aged 8-12 years who have a parent or family member with a mental illness. The program is designed to increase coping skills, reduce feelings of isolation and increase self-esteem. Young people work through the Handle with Care Workbook, which provides education about mental illness. This program includes activities such as arts and crafts, peer support, relaxation, interactive exercises and problem solving tasks. Please note that participants can only attend SMILES one time and must attend both days. For more information or to register a child with the program contact the Arafmi Youth Services team on (08) 9427 7100.
Run by Arafmi WA, the KOPING program is provided to young carers aged 13-15 years who have a parent or family member with a mental illness. The program is designed to increase coping skills, reduce feelings of isolation and increase self-esteem. Young people receive information about mental illness, caring and participate in activities such as arts and crafts, peer support, relaxation, interactive exercises and problem-solving tasks. Please note this is still in a pilot stage within WA and currently is only available in the metropolitan region. For more information or to register a child with the program contact the Arafmi Youth Services team on (08) 9427 7100.
Mental Health First Aid
Mental Health First Aid is a two day workshop run by many services in WA for professionals and individuals. This workshop provides information on common mental health issues. It helps people to learn about signs and symptoms of mental illness, causes and risk factors, how to provide initial help, where to get professional help, and how to take appropriate first aid steps in a crisis situation. There are many targeted courses, including mental health first aid for youth and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. To find your local Mental Health First Aid instructor search under the instructor search tool on their website.
Ruah Community Services in Perth runs 3 workshop series which explore topics of parental mental illness and children of parents with a mental illness. These workshops are available for professionals as well as individuals and families. The workshops include topics such as; understanding mental illness, how mental illness affects parenting, and developing plans and strategies to support each other. For more information or to register for these workshops please contact the Perspectives Resource Unit on (08) 9443 9015.
Everyday Toolbox workshops
Run by From the Heart WA, this workshop is offered to women who have experienced postnatal/perinatal mental illnesses. This workshop supports the participants to develop self-care strategies and promotes recovery. For more information or to register please contact From the Heart WA on (08) 9340 1688.
Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP)
This is an eight week program run by MIFWA for people with mental illness and their carers. During WRAP, participants gain increased awareness and understanding of healthy lifestyles and increase their personal ability to maintain positive wellbeing. For more information or to register for this workshop please contact MIFWA on (08) 9237 8900.
Well Ways Carer Program
Run by MIFWA, the Well Ways Carer program is a collection of education programs for families and carers. The program helps to increase the capacity of families and individuals to effectively care for themselves, their other family members, and the person with a mental health experience. For more information or to register for this workshop please contact MIFWA on (08) 9237 8900.
Run by Arafmi WA, the Changing Minds program is provided in school to high school aged youth, in alternative education and TAFE institutes and to workplaces. This program is designed is a mental illness stigma reduction program which provides education and awareness about mental illnesses, mental health, and an opportunity for students to ask questions. The presentation also offers the students an opportunity to hear from people with a lived experience of having a mental illness or who are carers or family members of someone with a mental illness. For more information or to arrange for the program to be run in your school or workplace contact Arafmi on (08) 9427 7100.
WA Perinatal Mental Health Unit
Within the North Metro Area Health Service Perinatal Mental Health Unit exists an education and training service for Clinicians. This aspect of the service is designed to assist clinician’s to respond to the pregnancy, reproductive and sexual health needs of women of child bearing age who have a serious mental illness. Please note this service is located within the Perth Metropolitan region.
Where can we go to get help?
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In WA there is no one organisation that specifically works with families and children of parents with a mental illness. Several services have developed COPMI programs which run within their other services, although the majority of these are based in the Perth metropolitan region.
If you are outside the Perth metropolitan region you can contact some of the listed services as they may be able to refer you on to a local service that can offer assistance. Whilst a local service may not specialise in providing COPMI and family services but can still offer you and your family support.
The following are WA services that offer support to parents with a mental illness, families affected by mental illness, grandcarers or carers.
Mental Health Carers: Arafmi (WA)
Arafmi WA supports friends, family and carers of people with a mental illness from the age of 8 and up. Arafmi’s services include; counselling, respite, youth programs, training, support groups, community education, advocacy, carer peer support, and more. Arafmi has offices across Perth and regional WA. Contact Arafmi on (08) 9427 7100.
Carers WA supports the carers of people who have a mental illness, disabilities and/or are frail aged, from the age of 8 and up. Carer’s WA services include counselling, respite, youth programs, training, community education and more. Carers WA has offices in Perth and regional WA. Contact Carers WA on 1300 242 636.
Carers WA also has a specialised young carers website which provides information for young carers and program information.
Wanslea Community Services
Wanslea WA offers a variety of services for families, children, and foster families. Wanslea COPMI Programs are available for families experiencing parental mental illness and children and youth aged 6-25 years who are children of parents with a mental illness. Wanslea COPMI programs offer social respite, youth programs and family support programs. Wanslea has offices across the Perth and Mandurah Metropolitan region. Contact Wanslea COPMI programs on (08) 9245 2441.
Ruah Community Services
Ruah offers a variety of adult and family services including training, aboriginal services, housing support, mental health support, and women’s services. The Perspective Resource Unit provides training for professionals and families about parental mental illness and Children of Parents with a Mental Illness. Ruah has offices across Perth and Regional WA. Contact Ruah on (08) 9485 3939.
Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres (CRCC)
Comprised of multiple agencies CRCC provides funding for respite for carers and young carers of all ages. In WA funded agencies include Red Cross and SilverChain. Exactly what is funded depends on the individual’s situation but can include transport, sporting activities, massages, and engagement with other respite programs. CRCC has funded agencies across Perth and Regional WA. Contact CRCC on 1800 052 222.
Mental Illness Fellowship of WA (MIFWA)
MIFWA support people with a mental illness, their carers and families. MIFWA offers recovery and rehabilitation programs, carer, youth and family services, parent peer support and physical health programs. The family and parent services are offered to families where parental mental illness experiences are present. MIFWA has offices across the Perth Metro area. Contact MIFWA on (08) 9237 8900.
From The Heart WA
From The Heart is a support service for mothers with mental health experiences of perinatal and postnatal mental illnesses. This service also provides information and support to partners and families of the mothers with a perinatal mental health experience. Services include information, support groups, counselling, and training. Contact From The Heart via their website (on the link above).
Children Of Mentally Ill Consumers (COMIC)
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren WA
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren WA is a network which runs support groups for grandparents who are raising grandchildren. Groups meet across the Perth metropolitan area. Contact Grandparents Raising Grandchildren WA through their website (on the link above).
Who can we call for help?
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Along with the National helplines there are a few helplines and other useful phone numbers specific to WA.
- Rural Link
This is a FREE mental health service offering after-hours information, counselling and support for rural communities in WA. To contact Rural Link call 1800 552 002.
- Parent Line (Parenting WA)
This FREE 24 hour, 7-days-a-week service offers information and support about any parenting matter. To contact the Parent Line FREE call 1800 654 432.
- Mental Health Emergency Response Line (MHERL)
This is a 24 hour, 7-day-a week mental health rapid response service. This service offers information, advice for families and carers, and responds to mental health emergencies. To contact MHERL call 9224 8888.
- Carers WA Counselling Line
This is a FREE phone service available between 8:30am-4:30pm, Monday to Friday. This number is a FREE call number from anywhere within WA. To contact Carers WA FREE call 1800 242 636.
- Arafmi WA
This is a FREE call number connecting you to Arafmi WA. This service is available between 8:30am-4:30pm, Monday to Friday. To contact Arafmi WA FREE call 1800 811 747.
Want to help others in WA who are parents living with mental illness?
Get involved with the two COPMI Lived Experience Reference groups which run as part of the WA COPMI Education and Awareness Strategy and feed into the WA COPMI Advisory Committee. One is for parents with a mental illness, their partners and carers. The other is for COPMI children, youth and young adults. These groups meet monthly. Contact Arafmi WA for more information on (08) 9427 7100.