Since 2012 the Geelong Depression and Anxiety Specific Interest (DASI) network has been coordinated by Cathy Bolger. The network is run as part of the Bethany Gambler's Help Integrated Service, in partnership with the Mental Health Professionals' Network (MHPN) in the Barwon region.
MHPN recently interviewed Cathy Bolger about her role as coordinator, here is what she shared with us.
How did you find out about MHPN?
Via the integrated service aspect of my role in the Gamblers Help program. My role as a counsellor covers both integrated service activities within the community service sector and counselling. I attended a meeting in the first week of commencing in my position and was asked to take on the coordinators position. I was unsure, however viewed it from the perspective of learning more about the interplay between MHPN, the community sector and primary mental health care providers in the Barwon region.
How many professionals attend the network and what topics have you discussed?
Attendance has consistently grown from less than 10 attendees to on average 25 attendees with numerous meetings attracting over 45 attendees. The attendance register has over 700 names of professionals who have attended at least one network meeting.
There have been 35 presentations delivered on a wide variety of topics, all with a focus on mental health. The opportunity for attendees to present to their peers in the network has also been embraced on several occasions.
Some of the topics delivered include: Mental Health Diet; Transference and BDP presentations; Self-Harm behaviour for people experiencing BPD; Perinatal and Infant Mental Health; Suicidality and Self-harm; Grief and Loss and Depression; Equine Therapy; Genetics, Medication and Mental Health; The Impact of Alcohol for Women; Benzodiazepine Dependency: Treatment and prevention.
A few attendees travelled from Melbourne and Colac to attend meetings on a regular basis.
Has there been a particularly popular meeting that you can recall?
The July 2014 meeting where David Pereira spoke on Transference and BPD presentations [was very popular], 65+ practitioners attended, many unannounced! All seats were taken and there were attendees standing at the back and even sitting on the floor at the feet of the presenter at the whiteboard at the front of the room.
What did you enjoy about coordinating?
I enjoyed many things!
- The opportunity to meet with peers working across primary mental health and community services, to network and renew old working relationships and develop new ones
- Attend quality professional development training by local presenters
- Learn about latest research and trials in the mental health field both locally and more broadly
- The opportunity to promote, present and reflect on clinical practice
- The opportunity to view cases from a medical lens
- Promoting client/patient referral pathways and support options
- Trying to identify gaps and seek presenters to promote training and awareness
- The magnificent support from Sarah and Ingrid, MHPN Project Officers, in all that they do to support the network
- Witnessing the growth of the network and the importance attendees reported on attending.
Whilst network coordination has its challenges (namely finding a venue) overall it has been a pleasure coordinating the network and working with the efficient and supportive staff at MHPN.
The information shared has assisted in my role with clients. The opportunity to meet and establish relationships with peers has been invaluable.
Cathy has stepped down from coordinating and we wish her well.
The network has recruited a new coordinator, and details of the next meeting will be distributed soon. Practitioners are invited to join the network list here.
MHPN would like to thank Cathy for her time and passion in driving and coordinating such a successful network.
Find your local MHPN network or more information about how easy it is to be a network coordinator.