The Murrumbidgee Local Health Disrict is on the search for people with lived experience of accessing mental health treatment to help improve staff training.
Applications are open for up to ten people who have used mental health services or cared for someone with mental health issues to join the hospital's SafeWards program.
From there, they will receive training to become co-faciliators and assist in training hospital staff over a 12-month period.
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Hospital Mental Health Manager Sharlene Brown said the SafeWards program was new to NSW, and focused on reducing 'restrictive practices' like restraining and sedating patients in favour of understanding more what patients need when they are distressed."
"At times some of our people can become quite agitated and the SafeWards model gives us tools to work with them differently, to de-escalate rather than restrain them," she said.
Ms Brown said those with lived experiences were "invaluable" in understanding how best to relate to mental health patients.
"They're the ones who utilise our services, have stories to tell and those stories are very powerful and can help us change the way we care for others," she said.
He said speaking to patients had taught him how much lived experience can assist in supporting them.
"Being able to be here, working as a peer support worker now and assisting people through their experiences while utilising my own, being able to build rapport and share with them how I found some things that worked for me, it's really opened up some doors for people and for myself as well," he said.
While those in the SafeWards program will not work directly with patients, Mr Doherty said they would have the power to change and challenge the views of staff.
"Despite the fact the people here generally have a long experience with clinical training, there's always more we can learn," he said.
"Anyone who ... may have utilised these services before, may have had mental health issues of their own and would like to share those issues with some staff in order to help reduce stigma and foster some understanding around these issues, they should definitely apply.
Applicants do not need to have facilitation experience to apply, and can inquire about the program by calling 5943 1700.