"I get a real sense of fulfilment from my work. I really feel like I’m making a difference in people’s lives and that’s really important to me."
I was supported by Neami as a consumer from 2014 to 2016. In 2016, I worked on the Neami Queensland State Day and Regional Day events as a consumer and then when the Peer Worker position became available at Neami Strathpine, I applied and was lucky enough to get it.
The peer worker role is one of lived experience, it uses my lived experience to help other people navigate their own care arrangements. Peer workers can help people to feel understood, to feel listened to and to feel like they have something to contribute to the relationship.
I think the engagement is really authentic for people, it’s someone with real experience of what they are going through. That’s the value of my role. What I say actually means something and it matters to people, it’s not just straight counselling it’s a bit more than that.
In my role, I talk about my own experiences of being unwell as a way of developing rapport and normalising mental illness for people. It was challenging, in the beginning, to talk about my own experiences of mental health because I didn’t know how to put it into words, but now I’ve found those words. I guide people out of that stuck-ness that they have.
Another one of the challenges in the early days of working at Neami was my medication. I’d go into a meeting and I’d fall asleep! But I’ve learnt to adjust to the longer hours now. I started by working two and a half days a week, then I went to three days and now I’m working five days a week. I thought I’d start full time and drop back to part-time in July of this year, but I don’t really feel the need to do that, I feel really supported in my role.
I’m really happy here, I think I’ve really found my niche.
I deliver the Flourish program and that’s about recovery, I talk to people about becoming the best version of themselves that they can be. When consumers have had long periods of illness and they don’t quite know where they fit anymore, I talk to them about actively reinventing themselves. People come out of the Flourish program and the testimonials they give are quite incredible.
I moved into the Peer Practice Leader role in July, this means I’m responsible for the professional development of the peer workforce in this area, so I take a really active role in what’s happening in the community in terms of developing the peer workforce. I’m involved in the Queensland Lived Experience Workers Network, Mental Health Lived Experience Engagement Network (MHLEEN), Peer Participation in Mental Health Services (PPIMS).
I get a real sense of fulfilment from my work. I really feel like I’m making a difference in people’s lives and that’s really important to me.That’s why I do the work I do. I am coming up to my fourth year at Neami now and I feel like I’m doing something really valuable and feel really supported here. I feel really grateful to be working in the Neami environment, I want to thank the people who have positively impacted on my wellbeing at work. I have a lot to be grateful for.