A simple coffee catch-up is helping mental health consumers improve their social skills, form friendships and improve their mental and physical wellbeing.
The Mind, Body and Soul support group meet each week for coffee, conversations, guest speakers and various physical activities such as Zumba with Elena Borg, yoga with Shift Inside and tai chi with Leanne Simpson. All providers are giving their time for free.
Consumer Consultant of Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs Debbie Lattimore said the catch ups were well attended by community and inpatient mental health consumers.
F45 Mackay owner Lee Renshaw recently spoke with the group about improving their health and fitness.
“Part of every week is a coffee and a conversation; sharing experiences, offering support and friendships but then we also have either a physical activity or a guest speaker,” she said.
“This session was all about how we are inspiring our tribe to make better choices and improving the health of ourselves and those around us through physical activity.
“We also did activities as a group such as mindfulness, memory games and relaxation,” she said.
Ms Lattimore says incorporating exercise into the support group has been strongly driven by the consumers themselves.
“It is our intention that consumers have the opportunity to make this group their own by being actively involved in the activities, guest speakers and location,” she said.
“They wanted to include more about physical activity into the sessions to help reduce the stress and symptoms of their mental health conditions.
“Exercising together also puts them in touch with others and reduces feelings of loneliness and isolation.”
The Mind, Body and Soul group has grown in popularity since it was first introduced in August last year. More recently it has evolved from a monthly meeting to weekly.
The group is facilitated by Debbie Lattimore with support from the OzCare Support Time and Rehabilitation Recovery (STARR) peer support staff.
Flavio Innes was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2008 and had to completely uproot his life in Brisbane to move closer to family in Mackay to help him through it.
Fast forward ten years and it has been a rollercoaster experience with Flavio facing different ups and downs, weight loss and weight gain and prescribed different medications all in the hopes of feeling happier. After persevering Flavio is now at the point where he is the happiest he has been in a long time and wants to keep improving.
The Mind, Body, Soul support group is one of the ways Flavio is continuing to get better attending the sessions every week for the past five months.
“My support worker got me into it and for me it was a way to socialise in general,” he said.
“I don’t really know people in this town even though I have lived here ten years so it was just a way for me to be around people with lived experience and support workers also.
“It’s safe and comfortable. I come and it relaxes me.”
Flavio urges others with lived experience to come along to the group even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone.
“Even if it takes a lot for you to just go to the meeting and you say nothing then that’s a step forward.
“You can come along and just observe and see how you like it, get comfortable. Everyone is so friendly.
“We have a few people that come along and don’t talk. They just want to be here to be in a zone they feel comfortable with. Just being present is enough I think.”
Michelle Cupitt has been attending the Mind, Body and Soul support group every Thursday for around six months.
As a mum of three Michelle has spent the past 21 years dedicating her life to her kids, while battling with a mental illness.
While she still has times where she can fall into a deep depression, Michelle is now committed to focussing on finding herself as her kids are all adults.
“I’m a mum that all the little birdies have left the nest just recently so I sort of lost myself because I spent all my time focussing on my kids,” she said.
“This is my first start of getting out and finding who I am again.”
The Mind, Body and Soul support group has helped Michelle make some new friendships but also improved her relationship with the support workers.
Through the group Michelle was introduced to Zumba at the group and has now committed to joining in outside of their Thursday sessions.
“I loved it! It’s the first time I have done Zumba and I will definitely be back,” she said.
“It’s the music, it’s moving, it’s the atmosphere, the people. I enjoy getting to meet new people as well.”
Mind, Body Soul has helped Michelle find new friends and a new passion so she encourages others to join in.
“Come along, give it a try that’s all I can say,” she said.
“Whatever is spoken about in the group stays in the group and there is no such thing as a silly question because everyone is on the same journey.
“There are so many nice people and the staff are wonderful. It’s just such an encouraging group. I often leave the group feeling on cloud 9 because it’s been such a great day.”