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Newcastle aged care home launches mental health initiative in lead up to Mental Health week

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In the lead up to Way Ahead Mental Health Week in October, Catholic Healthcare’s Charles O’Neill Hostel has launched an initiative encouraging residents and community members to create and plant artificial Flannel Flowers for increased awareness of mental health.

The aged care home has the aim to create more than 2,000 artificial flowers with the help of their community partners, to plant at the Mater Hospital in October as a symbol of mental health and the resilience of those who experience it long-term.

The Charles O’Neill Hostel is an aged care home in Mayfield West which has, alongside its mainstream aged care, a specific offering to older persons experiencing long-term mental health issues. The ten rooms offered at Charles O’Neill Hostel for these residents is a part of NSW Health’s Mental Health Aged Care Partnership Initiative (MHACPI), an initiative which encourages those living in the unit to strengthen their personal attributes that would enable them to transition to mainstream care.

Charles O’Neill Hostel Residential Care Manager, Miriam Mutasa, says the Flannel Flower initiative is very close to the hearts of the MHACPI unit residents.

“The objective of the project is to recognise the journey of the residents at Charles O’Neill and Mater Hospital,” she says.

“The garden, when planted at Mater Hospital in October, will really brighten up the lives of those who can see them and remind them that regardless of their life experiences, they can develop resilience and the ability to adapt to life’s challenges – just like the Flannel Flower.”

According to the Mental Health Australia, the Flannel Flower has been chosen as the national symbol for mental health awareness in Australia, due to its adaptability and resilience through extreme weather.
“In the same way all of us, regardless of our life circumstances, develop resilience and the ability to adapt to change, in order to maintain good mental health,” the website states.

Miriam is encouraging local entities in the Newcastle and Hunter community to also participate in the creation of Flannel Flowers so they can mutually reach the goal of 2,123 flowers by October (total number of mental health beds).

“We would love to have schools, universities and especially young people participate in the creation of flowers so we can get the awareness out there to people who don’t completely understand mental health,” she says.

“This is a great community initiative and we would be thrilled to have others on board.”

For more information or to get involved in the creation of the Flannel Flowers, please get in touch with Felicity Smith at Charles O’Neill Hostel on 02 4389 3900.