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As Mental Health Month draws to a close, our Stockland CARE Foundation partners Redkite, R U OK? and ReachOut reflect on the first year of our collaborative partnership and how we can support people to use the power of connection and look after each other’s mental health throughout our communities.

Watch this video to hear from our CEO Mark Steinert and our partners reflect on the partnership and how we are better together. 

Through our collaborative partnership and to mark the end of Mental Health Month, the Stockland CARE Foundation, and charities RedkiteReachOut and R U OK? have come together to share how bringing together people going through similar experiences can foster powerful emotional and practical support when it’s needed the most.  

So, what is peer support? Peer support occurs when people who have similar lived experiences share their experiences, knowledge, emotional or practical support with someone going through a similar situation. There is a common language and a mutual understanding between peers that can reduce those feelings of isolation. When peers share coping strategies or insights, they have been “field tested” by people with a similar experience, making them potentially more relevant and useful. 

At ReachOut, peer support for parents and carers is facilitated through the ReachOut Parents Online Forum. This is a supportive, safe and anonymous online space for parents of teens aged 12–18 years to talk about everything from mental health to communicating with their children, and everyday parenting issues. Parents and carers can share ideas, thoughts, and experiences, and to support one another as they navigate the day-to-day of parenting.  

Online communities are a great way to access guidance, advice, and encouragement from the comfort of your home. Anonymous, private, and readily available communities like the ReachOut Parents Forum foster mutually supportive relationships. They create a safe space to share what is going on, or to offer an understanding ear to someone else who is in need of support. 

At Redkite, peer support is encouraged through Connect Group and Coffee Catch-up sessions with parents and carers who have a child with cancer. The Connect Groups, facilitated by two Redkite social workers, have a theme or topic, to encourage conversations between people who are in a similar situation. Coffee Catchups are less structured groups for parents who have a child on treatment or recently off treatment to meet and connect. In both, participants are safe to express their emotions without fear of judgement, because they are with peers who all have something in common and who “just get it”. 

In the words of one parent: “[The Connect Group] enabled me to connect back into a community of people who at once identified and empathised with my journey. Every parent had a different perspective on their experiences so I was able to gain strength from a parent whose child was further down the track in their journey, and similarly, I was able to lend support to a parent whose child had been off treatment for less time. The impact was very powerful.” 

R U OK? has a variety of resources to encourage people in the community to build connections with each other, so that everyone feels safe, supported and encouraged. The resources promote peer-to-peer support and regular meaningful conversations.  

R U OK? CEO Katherine Newton says for an R U OK? conversation to be meaningful it must be authentic and involve a level of trust between people who know each other and are familiar with each other’s routines and behaviours

“When we live, socialise or work closely alongside someone, we can be the first to spot changes that might indicate someone is struggling. You don't need to be an expert to reach out - just a good friend and a great listener.” said Ms Newton.   

If you or someone you know would like to access support provided by RedkiteReachOut or R U OK? you can direct them to the below places: 

Redkite 

Call 1800 REDKITE (1800 733 548) or support@redkite.org.au. You can also check out Redkite’s website redkite.org.au for details on the Connect Groups sessions. 


ReachOut 

To access the ReachOut Parents Online Forum: 

  • Sign up and create an anonymous account so that you can participate in conversations.

  • Check out the community guidelines.

  • Read some posts and check out what other community members are talking about.

  • Start your own thread, or contribute to another conversation 

R U OK?

You can find conversation tips at www.ruok.org.au/how-to-ask  

If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed or needs some extra support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or one of the services listed at www.ruok.org.au/findhelp