Personal resilience helps build stronger communities

Residents of the Limestone Coast have been able to strengthen their personal resilience in the face of anxiety and COVID-19 uncertainties, thanks to community grants from OneFortyOne.

Funding of $9,500 through a OneFortyOne Community Capacity Building Grant, administered by Stand Like Stone Foundation, has allowed the South East Junction to offer dedicated resilience training for people coping with stress and adversity.

“The grant made it possible for us to offer two courses simultaneously,” coordinator Nel Jans said.

“That meant we could help more people, by offering more places and a choice of meeting times.”

South East Junction Coordinator Nel Jans said the community grant made it possible for the mental health activity and resource centre to help more people.

The courses, run in partnership with WISE Employment, combined group interaction and practical tasks to give people new skills for coping with everyday challenges.

Nel said many attendees have told her they continue to use the skills they gained and have enjoyed a measurable improvement in their confidence.

“This helps people to bounce back from adversity, take new opportunities and gain a sense of their place in the community.”

The South East Junction is a volunteer-run mental health activity and resource centre operating in the Limestone Coast area. It helps people cope with challenges like anxiety, depression, loneliness, anger management and relationship choices, as well as working to improve mental wellbeing for the general public.

The centre started over 11 years ago as a Country Health SA Community Mental Health initiative but, when that funding ended, it became incorporated and continued as a volunteer-run organisation. Without a source of ongoing funding, the Junction now relies on donations and grants to organise its activities.

The Stand Like Stone Foundation has been a strong supporter since those early days, providing the centre’s very first grant and delivering a vital financial foundation for the development of its activities and programs.

“Our independence actually allows us to be more flexible and responsive to community needs,” Nel said.

“For example, in 2021 we hope to roll out a 24-week course aimed at helping men to manage and improve healthy relationships and mental wellbeing when faced with life challenges and the impact of COVID-19 restrictions.”

Activities are designed to provide therapeutic benefits and range from socialisation and education to simply gardening, cooking and exercising for a healthier lifestyle.

“You have to believe in small steps and long-term results,” Nel said.

“Rather than focusing on people’s mental health issues, we concentrate on reinforcing their positive qualities and the ways those qualities can help them deal with life’s challenges.”

Nel believes community-based mental health support contributes to a healthy community.

“By helping people to not remain a victim of their problems, we can help them re-engage with others and re-engage with society,” she said.

“Many of the people we help come back to help at the Junction and support others following in their footsteps.”

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