Isabelle Devos, One Door Mental Health carer advocate, will run four free three-hour workshops next month to assist families, friends, and carers of people with mental illnesses.
"It's a very comfortable way of learning," Ms Devos said. "We all learn from each other because people can share some of their experiences."
The first three workshops focus on communications: how to talk and discuss things that might be difficult in a family, and broach conversations about change.
"By the end, hopefully we'll have a few more tools on how not to have so many arguments, or have more constructive and less volatile conversations," Ms Devos said.
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Participants of previous workshops reported they started to talk more easily; don't fight as much; and argue less. "They hear each other better, and listen more," Ms Devos said.
The last session introduces mindfulness, a relaxation technique proven to reduce stress levels. Participants will trial six or seven different types of mindfulness from guided relaxation to walking mindfulness or movement.
The free workshops run on Mondays from March 2 to 23, 1 to 4pm. Places capped at 12 people. Register before February 28; call 6772 3211 or 0400 463 171.
Ms Devos runs several workshops throughout the year. Other topics might be an introduction to mental illness (how the brain and neurotransmitters work, understanding anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia); how to prevent the risk of suicide; or the grieving and recovery process for families and carers.
"While the mental health professionals do a really good job, especially the hospital, of explaining a condition, they can't sit down and have a three-hour workshop with you," Ms Devos said.
One Door Mental Health runs one-on-one emotional support; support groups; workshops on topics that would interest a carer; and advocacy if something goes wrong within the health system or with housing or other issues.
The organisation is an official partner with NSW Mental Health. All support is free, government-funded, and confidential; self-referrals are welcome.
Ms Devos can also run workshops one-on-one if people feel uncomfortable in a group.
One Door Mental Health is at Suite 8, 94 Beardy St, Armidale. Contact Isabelle Devos on 6772 3211, or email email@example.com.