Australia Post helps Momentum Mental Health offer hope over morning tea
After the pandemic and two tragedies left a regional community desperate for connection, Momentum Mental Health plans to launch a new initiative called Hope Brewed Here to bring people together over morning tea.
It isn’t often that people are proud of their long-term relationship with a mental health service.
But Momentum Mental Health isn’t just any healthcare service. Previously known as Toowoomba Clubhouse, it has taken care of people living with a mental illness or disability within its regional communities since 1996.
The clubhouse model offers this vulnerable group of people opportunities for friendship, employment and access to healthcare services in a safe and caring space.
In late 2020, the Toowoomba Clubhouse team realised that many of its members were visiting the space to simply hang out with each other. And they’d been doing so for over a decade.
“They were wearing their relationship with us as a badge of honour,” says Wendy Green, Communications and Partnerships Manager of Momentum. “That’s when we knew we had to move to a model which would help connect people back in with their community.”
That’s when the decision was made to change the organisation’s name and service model so it could better support communities in the Toowoomba, Chinchilla and Warwick regions of Queensland.
“We zeroed in on prevention instead of intervention,” says Wendy. “This meant thinking about how to help people thrive in their community and become a meaningful part of conversations.”
Today Momentum runs mental health and wellbeing programs that are designed to build confidence and connections within the local regional communities.
Opening the doors to mental health support for all
Prevention is better than cure.
It’s a centuries-old adage that holds true for modern healthcare and especially for mental healthcare.
So, it wasn’t surprising that Momentum’s shift into this space was applauded—and not just by the community. Wendy says local GPs were thrilled that people didn’t need a diagnosis, referral or mental health care plan to access Momentum’s services.
“The bulk of GP appointments are for mental health care plans,” she says. “And then their patients either can’t get an appointment with a psychologist or can’t afford the gap payment.”
“And the non-diagnosis also worked for people who believed they’d be penalised in their industry for having a mental health issue. We’ve removed as many barriers as possible to people being able to improve their mental health and wellbeing.”
Switching its service model meant adapting to a different operational model, too. Wendy and her team had to hit the ground running with fundraising and building philanthropic relationships and corporate partnerships so they could host mental health events. The workload was heavy, but the benefits were indisputable.
“If the inevitable life trauma happens when your wellbeing cup is full, you’ll cope better and get back on your feet faster,” says Wendy. “It’ll still hurt but you’ll have more resilience.”
“But when your wellbeing cup is empty, those life blips can floor you and isolate you from your community for a long time. And isolation is a key trigger of mental illness.”
The truth of this observation was never clearer than during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Australia Post grant helps bring community together
Many Australians in rural and regional areas struggled with isolation and mental health during the pandemic lockdowns. But after the lockdowns lifted, very few of the regular community events were revived and people lost the opportunity to connect in person.
Then two tragedies unfolded mere months apart from each other that left the community deeply shaken.
In December 2022, two police officers were shot at Wieambilla. In February 2023, the same area suffered devastating bushfires that destroyed homes and property.
Momentum had staff on the ground to support the community during both times, but it quickly became clear that people were finding comfort in each other’s physical company. Connecting online was a poor substitute in an area where mobile and internet services are still weak.
Then Momentum’s Senior Wellbeing Coach, who’s also an Australia Post team member, nominated the organisation for a People of Post Grant. In May 2023, Momentum received word that it was one of the recipients of a $1,000 grant.
In October 2023, Momentum will launch Hope Brewed Here, a community morning tea to acknowledge the community’s resilience, share stories and support them with resources to help rebuild their lives. Wendy says three towns have already asked for a morning tea in their area.
“We’re prioritising the more isolated areas and trying to connect with people who aren’t keen on joining our programs because of the mental health stigma. Australia Post has made this possible for a region that's crying out for love, care and attention.”