New mental health and alcohol and drug recovery program to be delivered by peers

A new peer-led mental health and alcohol and drug addiction program is being tested in the Top End, with those with personal experience also being invited to help shape the program.

Lived Experience Network spokeswoman Noelene Armstrong said the organization developed Recovery Together, a free, evidence-based program run by like-minded people — people with their own lived experience of related issues and recovery who have been trained to run the program .

The program was funded by the NT Primary Health Network as a trial and is being evaluated.

“Recovery Together provides a safe and confidential space for people to learn evidence-based strategies to support their recovery,” she said.

“The medical model for recovery relies heavily on treating people’s symptoms with medication. In reality, “recovery” is a deeply personal process and is determined by each person.

“Recovery is living a meaningful and fulfilling life. It’s about having control and influence over one’s life, sometimes even with the persistent experience of symptoms.

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“It is important to know that people can and do recover from significant and lifelong challenges. The evidence shows that the best way to support recovery is to make connections, to destigmatize people’s experiences, and to support them to build their own recovery and self-management skills.

“These are the principles applied by the NT Lived Experience Network to develop Recovery Together.”

Ms. Armstrong said the NT Lived Experience Network grew out of the empowerment created when a similar program called My Recovery was implemented during the May 2019-October 2021 Darwin Peer Led Education Pilot, which was run by the Menzies School of Health Research evaluated and recorded impacts on the recovery experience of local people.

She said some of the feedback from attendees included, “…we were a group. We were all connected. We all had similar problems, but I found that I wasn’t alone. We supported each other.”

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And: “I see a sense now. I also understand why life is so important. So the course made a tremendous difference for me.”

And also: “I think it’s brilliant. I think peer programs are the way to go. I got more out of this peer program than any damn program ever run by professionals.”

The program will be trialled in Darwin and Palmerston from next month through March 2023, with a limited number of evening and weekend programs available.

“We invite people to submit their expressions of interest in the program and their preferences for participation by completing our online survey or by contacting us directly,” she said.

Mr. Armstrong said the Lived Experience Network also hosted a co-design workshop to help finalize the design of the Recovery Together program and called on people with lived experiences related to mental health and/or alcohol or drug-related issues to join them to share their thoughts and views on the design of the program, planned activities and how we can best evaluate it.

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You can register your interest by calling or emailing Ms Armstrong on 0438 022 032 [email protected]or by visiting the website.

The co-design workshop will take place on Saturday 24th September between 1pm and 4pm at Response Employment and Training, 3/66 Coonawarra Road, Winnellie. Here you can sign up.

If you or someone you know has a mental health problem please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyondblue on 1300 224 636, 13YARN (a service run by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) or Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978 .

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