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How art helped Sammy heal

Sammy is a 22 year old gifted artist and talented writer.

Sammy is a survivor of sexual abuse, perpetrated by her stepfather.

She was referred by Headspace Elsternwick, when it was determined that her complex PTSD and mental health needs would be better managed by the First Step Mental Health Integrated Complex Care (MHICC).

In exploring what her goals and aspirations were, Sammy identified that she wanted to again create art – she had previously made art to manage her mental health symptoms and as a form of income, selling her works at street and art markets.

On Sammy’s behalf, we applied to the National Psychosocial Flexible Funding Brokerage program to purchase art supplies. This program is designed to support people with severe mental illness overcome financial barriers to social inclusion. In other words, we can pay for those things people need to really start being active, contributing and using and developing their skills.

For Sammy, it provided an outlet for her emotions and assisted in the healing process during her self-reported ‘dark days’. And it allowed for her to make new social connections selling at the markets.

Sammy’s work was discovered by a local artist who invited her to present at an upcoming exhibition. This opportunity broadened her life skills, increased her confidence and resilience, and made significant improvements to her self-worth and wellbeing, as measured by her treatment team.

As a teenager, Sammy journaled to help process her experiences. With the team, she identified some training goals to complete a short creative writing course. This was supported by the Flexible Funding Brokerage program.

Each week, Sammy would share with her treatment team what she was learning and what her challenges were. Working together, she learned to use her writing as a coping strategy to manage her emotions.

Sammy continues to face all her life challenges with admirable strength and self-reflection, and no longer needs such intense support. She fills her days with art, gym and has recently taken on the responsibility of owning a puppy! Although we miss seeing Sammy (and her puppy) weekly, not needing us in the same way is indicative of all the hard work she has put in.



by Hayley Pedley
Care Coordinator, Mental Health Services
NPS Flexible Funding Brokerage


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