THE Griffith community has thrown its support behind the plan to build a new mental health safe house in the city.
The Bricks for Life campaign, which urges residents to donate $2 to buy a brick to construct a new facility, has been backed by the ANZ Bank and a local church group.
Suicide Awareness president Val Rowe said she was "estatic" the project was gathering momentum. "I'm just thrilled to see that the ANZ and the church groups have come on board," she said. "The sooner we can raise the money, the sooner we will save lives and help local families who need it."
ANZ business manager Mark Harris said his branch was more than happy to lend a hand. "My staff and I saw this as a very worthy cause to help people in Griffith," he said. "The bottom line is, mental health is a big issue everywhere and if there is any way we can get behind something that helps address the problem then we will. We have opened an account so that people can donate to buy the bricks. This will allow the community to contribute to the cause."
Baptist minister Rev Kevin Webb said he is exploring the possibility of establishing a support group made up of local ministers that could assist the safe house. "The idea is to provide a support network, a point of call to help mental health patients, we'd be non-denominational and call ourselves Emergency Support Services," he said.
"If the safe house project gets off the ground it would be a great opportunity for us to utilise the facility. The advantage is that most pastors are trained as counsellors. While we may not be trained in mental health, we do have the skills to listen. Mental health is obviously a big concern and anything that can help is a good thing."
Chairman of the Griffith Mental Health Task Force, Noel Hicks said, in theory, the concept was a good plan. "I think it's a good idea, however the problem is not bricks and mortar, its staff," Mr Hicks said. "If we build it who is going to staff it? Training for mental health is a complex issue. I think if we can staff it and maintain it then it's a wonderful idea."
Story by Tanya Pattison, The Area News, Monday March 13 2006.