Mental health charity seeks support


Site required: Enveco Health founder Moniquea Spiteri is looking for help in tackling a mental health crisis. Picture: Supplied

A CHARITY set up as a social enterprise wants to open a trauma recovery and mental wellbeing centre on the Mornington Peninsula.

The site could be a former hospital or a donated section of a large property.

Enveco Health founder Moniquea Spiteri said the organisation had unsuccessfully “approached numerous foundations, applied for grants [which is] the usual process that not-for-profits do…”.

“Seed funding and seed capital is the hardest to get [because] when it comes to backing innovation everyone is focused on technology start-ups or others doing the same thing,” she said.

Generous philanthropists were hard to find. “We’ve been searching for one for the past six years, or a couple of board members to help us push the project forward.”

Ms Spiteri, of Mount Martha, is a qualified somatic psychotherapist and trauma specialist with 15 years’ experience in mental health service system design and delivery.

She said the wellness and recovery centre would become a model for “eco-friendly, sustainable living practices and innovation in the healthcare sector”.

“With one of the world’s highest rates of suicide, mental ill-health, severe mental illness and mental health-related homelessness, Australia is experiencing a mental health crisis,” Ms Spiteri said.

Research was showing the situation would worsen “after the pandemic”.

While looking to find a home on the peninsula, Enveco is also on the short list to buy and reopen a mothballed hospital at Warburton – a former hydrotherapy centre – as its Warburton Well Being Centre.

The property was owned by Sanitarium but closed 10 years ago.

Ms Spiteri said she aimed to eventually open centres in several suburbs but was often beaten when bidding for suitable sites by developers with “deeper pockets”.

This had been the case at the former Mount Eliza hospital site in Jacksons Road.

“There is no cure for those who take their own lives, however, we can support those that survive and we can make inroads into prevention,” Ms Spiteri said.

“The earlier we intervene, the more likely we are to reduce mental health problems, including suicide and homelessness, and the social and emotional health problems related to it.

“The personal tragedy that many of our supporters have experienced has demonstrated that this facility will become a much-needed relief in the mental health landscape. I am constantly contacted by those who have experienced firsthand the impact that poor mental health and suicide has had on their friends and families.

“There is a mentality not to discuss suicide because of the fear of copycats.

“Unfortunately, when someone dies there is no second chance, so the only way forward is prevention.

“This centre will provide the missing piece to the current mental health crisis and develop a gold standard in mental health care.”

Health Minister, Flinders MP Greg Hunt said he supported “any group looking to provide health services for the community”.

“I have met with and made representations on behalf of Enveco Health over the years and look forward to their completion of a business case for any preferred site, so that they may appropriately seek funding.”

Cr Antonella Celi said that following the Royal Commission Report into Victoria’s mental health system there had never been “a more important time to empower and support diverse trauma recovery models that offer accessible and integrated mental health care services to help people heal, recover and go on to live meaningful lives in their own community”.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 16 June 2020


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