Frederika (not her real name) was referred to FFB by her GP. Frederika was recovering from a substance use disorder (SUD) As part of her treatment plan to build resilience and confidence and to introduce her to positive peer groups, she engaged with VOSS (Voices of the South Side) to participate in a course titled 'Speaking Out'. This 10 week course was (is) designed to provide an opportunity to learn how to speak confidently in public, to advocate, to become more aware of one's own communication style and to gain the confidence and ability to clearly articulate ideas.
On her own Frederika was not able to afford the course - however through Flexible Funding Brokerage Frederika was able to secure the necessary funds to complete the course, resulting in a marked increase in confidence and further engagement with a new creative writing course & local choir.
Fred (not his real name) has been engaged with the Mental Health Integrated Complex Care team for around 6 months. One of Fred's challenges was dealing with the voices in his head. Fred's mental health team felt that many of his treatment goals would be facilitated if the voices in his head could be better managed.
Many options were reviewed before it was settled on the purchase of a radio/cd player as a method for quieting the voices. This simple solution had the ability to provide a dramatic change to the quality of Fred's life. With background noise (like that provided by the radio) Fred was able to concentrate on his own thoughts rather than the incessant chattering in his head. His concentration improved which also improved his ability to interact and relate to others. This encouraged his participation in other activities like Art Therapy.
Amy* is a 32 year old female well known to First Step, having been engaged for five years. She has a long history of complex PTSD from childhood trauma. Amy completed a degree, going on to complete first class honors before commencing work. After 2 years working, her mental state deteriorated and Amy was unable to continue. She was diagnosed with complex PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, comorbid anxiety and substance dependence (alcohol and cannabis).
Amy engaged initially in the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP) and transitioned into the MHICC program at the commencement of Stepped Care. Amy's care was managed by a team that included her Mental Health Nurse, her GP and her clinical psychologist (all located on the one site). Treatment included a combination of directed Cognitive Behavioural Theory and Trauma Therapy, medication management, daily suicide prevention and substance dependence recovery. Over the past two years Amy has made slow but significant progress and in the past 12 months this team has supported Amy with her goal of returning to work.
At the start of the year, Amy decided to return to university to undertake a Master’s Degree. However more than four years of unemployment meant she faced significant challenges both in respect to her mental and physical health, in financing her studies. Even the logistics of completing the rigorous application process was challenging.
Amy's Mental Health Nurse enrolled her in the FFB program as an avenue through which to overcome some of these hurdles. She enrolled in a public speaking course through Voices of the South Side to help regain some social confidence in a supported environment. (Voices of the South Side work specifically with people who are socially isolated to help them develop skills in public speaking, debate and discussion to encourage better engagement with their communities).
At the same time FFB funded the re-issuance of past transcripts and a Birth Certificate in order for her to successfully complete her study application.
Once accepted into her chosen Masters degree, FFB funded the purchase of stationary and other materials required for the course.
A drivers license is a key requirement of the course that Amy will complete so the next phase of recovery will include driving lessions. These will be funded by FFB as part of her ongoing treatment plan.
Despite significant improvement in her mental health and cognitive capacity, Amy found this process very stressful and it was necessary for her to be closely monitored by her team (GP, MHICC & psychologist) to ensure her ongoing psychological health.
Amy’s case is a positive example of how financial barriers can become significant roadblocks to future well-being and how we can help them to achieve their goals of community connectedness, employment and independence through the coordinated delivery of clinical healthcare and psycho-social support. It is also serves to demonstrate the nature of an enduring mental illness and the need for timely, collaborative and ongoing care to ensure a person does not only obtain stability, but is able to sustain stable mental health while returning to work and independence.