Our Impact: Helping Injured workers 'return to life'

iCare NSW

Our Return-to-Life approach of skilling up people to find creative practices proven to regulate and reduce a range of mental health symptoms.

"Makeshift Creativity on Prescription has, by far, been the most enjoyable part of my mental health journey. Suffering from PTSD, an Adjustment Disorder and Anxiety left me feeling like I was alone in a dark hole, with no way out. Makeshift has helped me find a way out of the hole. I now have a toolkit containing a wide range of activities, from writing to gardening, that I can choose from to improve my mental state. Thanks to Makeshift, I have rediscovered joy and, after being guided through short, easy, everyday practices, I feel empowered to better manage my mental health on a day-to-day basis."

Approximately seven and half thousand people in NSW are compensated each year due to mental health injuries that occur in the workplace. Safe Work Australia estimates that $543M is paid each year in compensation to Australian workers who experience mental stress, traumatic incidents or bullying and violence at work.

The impact of these injuries is significant. The average length of time off work for a psychological injury, in comparison to a physical one, is at least twice as long, and often this experience in itself actually exacerbates the original psychological injury. Isolation and loss of sense of purpose and identity feature heavily in many peoples' experiences of being on a claim due to mental health stress and injury.

"Before this program, I hardly left the house or spoke to anyone. I was really adrift after being so immersed in my job for so many years. Finding myself unable to even socialise with my children's friends' parents was really hard, I felt hopeless"

The ReMind: Creative Prescription 8 week program takes a range of creative practices, like drawing, cooking, music, writing and craft, and applies them in a way that helps people to understand how these practices can help to shift us out of really uncomfortable experiences like heightened anxiety, numbness, vigilance and a range of symtoms and impacts of PTSD.

Along with a range of cognitive behavioural therapy tools, such as the Window of Tolerance, we work with group participants to develop awareness of how mental health experiences show up for them, and which practices specifically offset those experiences. By cultivating a habit of those practices, participants develop mindful self-care behaviours and complete the program with greater capacity to know and understand what they need to do each day to support their mental health recovery.

"Being able to try out different things like creative writing, music and painting - I never would have tried these and I was surprised not only by how much I enjoyed them, but how relaxing they are. It's a really amazing way to connect with enjoying things again. I didn't think that would ever happen."

Following our pilot program in 2019, the following outcomes were reported by participants:

Mood Management - 100% agreed with the statement “I learned how to recognise my moods” and “I found I could change my mood using what I’d learned” 

Self Awareness - 83% agreed with the statement “I have gained insight into my own abilities/ creativity” 

Hopefulness - 100% agreed with the statement “I feel more hopeful about the future

Confidence - 83% agreed with the statement “I feel more at ease with myself” and “I feel more confident” 

Managing Mood - 67% agreed with the statement “I like myself more than I did before and can control my own mood/ responses” 

Social Interactions - 100% agreed with the statement “I made new friends” and 83% agreed with the statement “I have had more social interactions” 

Activity - 100% agreed with the statement “I have been going out of the house more” 

Belonging & Community - 83% agreed with the statements “I feel a greater sense of belonging” and “The community feels more like a place for me”

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