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Making a difference to mental health

Work to redevelop outdoor courtyards in Latrobe Regional Hospital’s Flynn unit will begin at the end of September following a successful fundraising campaign.

Community and corporate contributions to the LRH Mental Health Appeal reached almost $143,000. The appeal, which was launched in May 2014, has now officially closed.

The Flynn unit is the region’s only inpatient facility for people requiring acute mental health support and has more than 1000 admissions every year.

The two concrete courtyards in the unit used by adults and adolescents have little or no greenery and limited seating.

The new outdoor environment for adults will feature a synthetic turf lawn, planter boxes, seating, decking and pathways. The area mostly used by younger people will also have a synthetic lawn and space for activities such as basketball and table tennis.

Advice was sought from the Horticultural Therapy Association of Victoria (HTAV) to ensure the new courtyards would provide a therapeutic benefit to help people with their mental health.

The designs were created by Joshua Dennis, a senior landscape architect at Melbourne-based firm Taylors, while construction will be carried out by Warragul company Farnham Development.

It is envisaged Flynn patients will assist with planting the garden beds.

LRH Board Chair Kellie O’Callaghan said interest in the courtyards had grown since the appeal’s launch last year.

"The appeal has provided us with an opportunity to engage with the community about the project and many people have offered suggestions on how to make the courtyards more user-friendly. The designer has done his best to incorporate these suggestions and I think everyone who contributed to the appeal will be delighted with the result," Ms O’Callaghan said.

Aside from LRH’s calendar of fundraising events, there were more than 200 individual donors to the Mental Health Appeal which carried the theme ‘Talk About It, Make A Difference’.

Ms O’Callaghan said community and business groups had embraced the opportunity to learn more about mental health services offered by LRH.

"I’ve been heartened by the response to our very first appeal for mental health. The interest and generosity indicates a real desire by our community to help people with mental health challenges," she said.

"There have been a number of events over the past 12 months such as our annual International Women’s Day luncheon, Gala Ball and the Traralgon Marathon and Running Festival where our staff have been able to discuss mental health and share information about the services available.

"It’s been a great community conversation which we hope will continue beyond this appeal. I think we’ve been able to demonstrate people can work towards mental health recovery with care and support from LRH, community agencies and family and friends."

Pictured l-r are Phil Farnham from Farnham Development, LRH Board Chair Kellie O'Callaghan and LRH Mental Health Service General Manager Acute Bed-Based, Eileen Geary.

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