Program helps in recovery process

Maurie Foun, of Towong, Jenny Fogarty, of Mansfield, Lesley Howe, of Thurgoona, Rachael Puddephatt, of Hume Medicare Local, and Todd Ruffin, a peer support worker for people living with mental illness in Finley, working on their creations at Creators Art Space. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

Maurie Foun, of Towong, Jenny Fogarty, of Mansfield, Lesley Howe, of Thurgoona, Rachael Puddephatt, of Hume Medicare Local, and Todd Ruffin, a peer support worker for people living with mental illness in Finley, working on their creations at Creators Art Space. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

TODD Ruffin is equipping himself with the tools to share his mental health story.

Diagnosed with schizophrenia five years ago, the Finley man was one of the participants in a recent interactive workshop in Wodonga.

Participants used visual arts to tell their experience of living with a mental illness or caring for someone with a mental illness.

Mr Ruffin is a volunteer support worker for people living with mental illness and chose to illustrate his story through a cartoon strip.

“It’s not a Da Vinci but it’s a quick and visual way to get my story across,” he said.

Mr Ruffin suffers from depression and fatigue and says there are also occasions he can hear voices as a result of his illness.

“It can be dark at times but I want to share my story so others know they are not alone,” he said.

Run by Hume Medicare Local and Partners In Recovery, the two-part workshop was developed to support consumer advocacy training sessions linked to the partners program.

The first of two workshops was held last month when participants were encouraged to use words to tell their story.

“The workshop was group led and aimed to empower the participants to be creative and tell their stories in a way that expresses and respects their own experiences,” Hume Medicare Local communications manager Rachael Puddephatt said.

“We’ve encouraged the group to use different mediums and to be imaginative while introducing some storytelling concepts to help them structure their thoughts.”

Partners in Recovery project officer Catherine Mather said engaging and empowering mental health consumers and carers was a key strategy in a client-centred approach to mental health recovery.

“By providing someone with an opportunity to record their experiences in a creative way it can give them the confidence to take ownership of their story,” she said.

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