Dancing to the Tune of a New Pathway in Addressing Depression

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Photo above: (From left to right) Amira Vijayanayagam, Innovation Manager PCCS  and Dr J.R. Baker, CEO at PCCS with Julian Leeser MP, Federal Member for Berowra celebrating PCCS Good Design Award.

Local MP Julian Leeser, The Federal Member for Berowra, visited with not-for-profit Primary & Community Care Services (PCCS) this week where he learned about the many community support programs available to the public through their NDIS funded programs.  

Mr Leeser is passionate about improving mental health in his electorate. In his maiden speech to Parliament where he described the devastating impact of losing his father to suicide and has since been a strong advocate for mental health and suicide prevention in his community and nationally. 

“Mental health is a major national priority. The pandemic has had a huge impact on the mental health of Australians and has reminded us that the circumstances of our lives can have a huge impact on mental health,” stated Mr Leeser. 

PCCS delivers support options for people affected by mental ill health, incorporating a ‘social prescribing’ approach, a way of delivering services that PCCS has pioneered in Australia since 2017.  

PCCS CEO, Dr. J.R. Baker has consistently introduced industryleading service improvements that always keep the client at the centre of change. He has led Primary and Community Care Services to become an Australian leader in social prescribing, complex care coordination and as a link work provider 

“Social prescribing works in conjunction with a medical care team to treat the social isolation that most often goes hand-in-hand with addressing mental ill health. Social prescribing is a way to link people with long-term health conditions to psychosocial services, with the aim of improving their social wellbeing. It shares the same values as the broader person-centred care approach that now underpins the health and social care sectors,” explains Dr Baker. 

Julian Leeser MP visits PCCS

Above: (LEFT TO RIGHT) Angel Neshama, PCCS Senior Groups Instructor with Julian Leeser MP, Federal Member for Berowra and Well Together Chill Dance Group participants.

PCCS’ Well Together® activity programs include art groups, cooking skills, light exercise and yoga, dance, socialising, stress management, equine therapy and much more. They focus on building a sense of community and getting people involved in groups together. It gives participants a place to go, to focus on something other than their health, to explore their creativity among like-minded people whilst giving them an opportunity to talk with someone if they wish. 

Mr Leeser’s personal experience has deepened his desire to support local organisations working in the field to rebuild caring communities where people acknowledge the people around them. Mr Leeser applauded the Well Together group which he joined during his visit, as being an exceptional example of innovation in the treatment of mental health. 

“It is great to see innovative, whole-person approaches to dealing with mental health that recognise that every individual has difficulties.” 

PCCS also offers a stream of support known as SKillness which is an NDIS funded capacity building program that features workshop activities and peer learning opportunities with a team of expert mentors, facilitators and occupational therapists. The aim of this program is to empower participants to explore their strengths and abilities in a meaningful way to interact with vocation-relevant activities while building their self-determination and confidence. SKillness assists participants in creating a strengths-based plan to help achieve their vocational goals. 

Earlier this month SKillness was recognised as a Good Design Award winner in the Social Impact Category and was also a Gold Award winner in the Communication, Design, Branding and Identity category for its powerful SKillness campaign – a stigma reduction and awareness raising campaign (co-created with Studio Hackettfocused on engendering powerful and strength-based images of real people with mental illness in the workplace. 

“A BRILLIANT way to create real and lasting change: flipping the stigma to make it the strength, letting go of slick perfection for the messiness of life, using real people and real stories. But the biggest win, the phenomenal win, is asking people to confirm their biases are unfounded,” commented The Good Design Awards Jury as they praised the SKillness campaign. 

PCCS provides many other community-based programs and services targeting mental ill health to improve wellbeing. These are delivered for NDIS participants, alongside programs such as GP Social Work Connect, Psychological Access+ and NewAccess which respectively assists the community with developing life skills; coaching to cope with stress, health, domestic violence, work and relationships; navigating the NDIS application process and changing NDIS providers.