Grafton Mental Health Support Service manager Mark McGrath is running a nine-week program later this month, based on a Black Dog Institute support program.
Grafton Mental Health Support Service manager Mark McGrath is running a nine-week program later this month, based on a Black Dog Institute support program. Adam Hourigan

REACHing out to mentally ill

UNFORTUNATELY, it’s much more common than we’d like to believe.

Millions of Australians are living with some form of mental illness at any time.

Clarence Valley residents living with either depression or bi-polar are being invited to undertake a free nine-week course in Grafton to help them understand their illness a little better.

Mental Health Support Service manager Mark McGrath said the REACH course was a psycho-educational support-group program.

“The psycho-educational component educates people about their illness,” he said.

“It was developed by the Black Dog Institute, a leading educational research community-oriented facility in Sydney that specialises in mood disorders like depression and bi-polar disorder.”

Mr McGrath said the REACH course was relatively new.

He said REACH was an acronym for the principles of the program, which stood for: responsibility, education, acceptance, connection and hope.

Mr McGrath said he travelled to Sydney last year to undertake further training in the program which, was aimed at improving people’s lives.

“There’s often been criticism that there hasn’t been services available for people with mental health issues, when in fact there is,” Mr McGrath said.

“I think one of the barriers is that people are afraid to access what’s available because of the stigma attached to mental health.

“One of my goals is to shift community attitudes towards the same approach that we take to physical illness.”

For inquiries about the free REACH program, which starts on March 29, call Community Programs Inc on 6642 7257.


HARD facts

  • One in five Australians experiences a mental illness within a 12-month period.
  • In 2007, 45% of Australians said they had experienced a mental disorder.
  • The World Health Organisation estimates depression will be the number one cause of disability by 2030.
  • The prevalence of mental disorders is highest among people who are separated or divorced, and lowest among those who are married.

Source: Black Dog Institute



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