Support Groups for Consumers
In addition to providing local community support between members, the achievement of the groups is very much dependent upon the involvement and commitment of its group members.
The activities of your group are determined by those who attend. Most groups have the aim of reducing the difficulties and disadvantages that mental illness might cause in the lives of members in the group.
Besides supporting and helping each other, there is another major challenge for the members of the group; that is to actually change the causes of their disadvantages and difficulties. This is done by educating the community, focussing on primary preventative strategies, researching your community needs, lobbying for services, advocating for individuals and the group, and providing information.
Click here for a current list of all support groups
The Objectives of SFNSW, which were originally decided on by the foundation members of the Fellowship, provide the guidelines for all of the activities of the Support groups. These objectives are quoted below.
The purposes for which the Fellowship is established are to promote the welfare of people with schizophrenia and to offer assistance to their carers, and in particular, to:
· Assist, advise, support and give hope to people with schizophrenia and other allied mental disorders in such areas as information, health, housing, rehabilitation, social and emotional support and community care facilities of all kinds, in order that suffering may be minimised and consumers may live with dignity to the limits of their individual potential.
· Raise community awareness of mental illness and educate the community at large towards an understanding of the implications of schizophrenia and other allied mental disorders, thereby reducing community fear, removing the stigma associated with mental illness and making the community aware of its incidence and nature. (Carers week, Mental health week and Schizophrenia Awareness week [SAW] are great opportunities to raise community awareness, either through an info stall, fundraiser or other creative options.)
· Monitor government policy and action in relation to housing and services for consumers and actively lobby the government and other organisations to promote the wellbeing of consumers.
· Design and develop projects to provide and assist in the provision of housing and services, and where necessary, to acquire and/or lease property for this purpose.
· Raise money through fund raising and by seeking donations and ongoing financial commitment from both individuals and organisations in order to carry out projects decided upon by the Association in accordance with the objectives.
· Develop and encourage facilities and programs such as therapeutic communities, drop-in centres and day care programs to give people with schizophrenia access to skills, training and employment, as well as sporting, home-making, artistic, fitness, social and spiritual activities, discussion groups and entertainment.
· Obtain financial support for people with schizophrenia and their carers, while encouraging them to help each other and themselves to cope more effectively by various means, such as self help groups and problem sharing.
· Establish a library of relevant publications and materials and provide and encourage the provision of counselling services. (A number of support groups have successfully obtained funds from various grants to establish their own ‘mobile libraries’.)
· Encourage and support research into the incidence, cause, course, treatment and aetiology of schizophrenia. (Having a guest speaker from the Schizophrenia Research Institute is a great way to promote this.)
· Produce publications as the Fellowship may from time to time decide, as well as encouraging members in your group to be proactive- such as submitting poetry and short stories to FOCUS.
· Seek assistance from government and from private industry for the provision of paid employment for consumers and former consumers.
· Establish liaison with other authorities and associations supporting people with a mental illness and participate in any other activities which will benefit carers and consumers.
As you can see from these objectives, the SFNSW has subscribed to the principles of mutual self help from its beginnings but it must always be remembered that these objectives can only be achieved with the active support of its members.