Mental health program saves patients, planet

JACQUI O'LEARYSound Telegraph

A program operating in Rockingham is helping turn lives around for people struggling with mental illness, according to the programs founder and director Jimmy O’Rourke.

Mr O’Rourke said the Growing Towards Wellness program, based at Rockingham General Hospital, was about helping patients reclaim their life.

He said participants of the program were working on gardening projects at Mimidi Park, located in the hospital grounds.

Mr O’Rourke said while patients were saving the planet, they were saving themselves from the darkness of their illness.

“We empower people to reclaim their identity in the world,” he said.

GTW manager Cathy Mills said the program connected people to rehabilitation projects and training to help them secure employment.

“We believe in connecting participants to the community as mental illness is extremely socially isolating and alienating,” she said.

“GTW and its projects use the natural environment and horticultural therapy as part of a recovery journey for participants combined with education, training and employment.”

Mr O’Rourke said many of the participants had received permanent work following their involvement in the program and together they were breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness.

GTW is a finalist in the National Disability Awards for their work in the mental health sector.

“We are the only regional WA finalist, and I nominated the organisation because over the past seven years, we have enabled more than 450 people living with mental illness to come out of the darkness and find purpose and enjoyment in their lives,” Ms Mills said.

Winners will be announced on November 26.

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