LISA Hoffman knows how it is to feel alone and scared, caught in the depths of depression. But since she became involved in the Lived Experience Project, she's been on an adventurous journey of recovery that's been as much of an odyssey as the one made by the ancient Greek Ulysses. As participants in the Lived Experience Project, Lisa and 16 other Northern Rivers locals with an experience of mental health issues have been studying Certificate IV in Community Services at ACE and are ready to launch an educational online 'zine' (short for magazine) called Ulysses.
"Ulysses is an online resource that provides a wide range of information about mental health issues that affect people in the community," Lisa said. "It's for anyone who is affected by mental illness."
The students' tutor at ACE, Maureen McDermott, said the online project was the culmination of a "new enterprise in education and mental health services".
"We are inviting NGOs in the area to get involved in the Ulysses project and would like ongoing zine contributions from people with a lived experience of mental illness," Maureen said. "We also need more local organisations to consider employing peer workers."
As well as creating their new zine, the students have been undertaking work placements in local community service organisations and are working toward becoming employed as peer workers within mental health organisations throughout the North Coast. Lisa has been working as a peer worker at the Lismore Adult Mental Health Inpatient Unit and loves helping people there.
"A peer worker is someone who understands what people are feeling. They have someone to speak to who has been unwell and can now hold down a job."
The Lived Experience Project aims to train and empower people who have had mental health issues and provides them with the skills to become employed as peer workers.
The Ulysses project will be launched next Thursday, May 31, from 2-4pm at the Fountain Room in Lismore City Hall and everyone is invited.
As well as showcasing their new zine, the students have formed a band, Odysseus, and will be playing original music at the launch, alongside guest speakers and the heavenly sounds of the Hearing Voices Choir. To RSVP for the launch, phone Maggie O'Connor on 0422 331 901. You can also find the online resource at http://ulysses.comlu.com.