How much did “Be Well” help you with……? Please rate how much “Be Well” helped you with……
Finally, with over 30 years experience of working with women and providing gender-specific care, we know anecdotally, that providing a safe space for women has enormous and far-reaching benefits for clients which includes increased levels of disclosure, increased support seeking and motivation for change.
Lucy Jestin and Richelle Searles - Be Well Program
Lucy Jestin - firstname.lastname@example.org
Mental Health Worker
Richelle Searles - email@example.com
Mental Health Worker
“I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land the
Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation on which we are
meeting. I pay my respects to their Elders, past and
present, and emerging”
• Working in Women’s health and family services for over 2
• Masters in Social Work
• 20 + years experience working in various areas of
community services including child protection, domestic
violence, mental health, and drug & alcohol services.
• Skills: psychosocial assessment, counselling (1:1 and
group), triage, case management, outreach and advocacy.
• Working in Women’s health and family services for 10 months.
• Bachelor of Science (hons)
• TAFE cert IV’s in youth work, drug and alcohol work.
• Studying Psychology at the University of Western Australia.
• 10 years of experience working in the fields of research,
mental health, addictions, residential services, animal-assisted
therapy and youth work.
• Skills: psychosocial assessment, counselling (1:1 and group),
triage, case management, outreach and advocacy.
Program principles and outcomes
Research and women centric care
What is the biggest barrier for
people who are attempting to
access mental health support?
• Be Well is a program of Womens Health and Family Services
(WHFS) which assists women experiencing severe and enduring
mental illness, through group and individual support structures.
• The program aims to encapsulate six domains of wellbeing and
promotion of recovery;
- daily living
- family relationships, and
- health (physical/mental/emotional).
• Be Well offers an 8 week open group format within each school
term (4 per year)
• Participants can join at any point after an initial assessment and
can stay involved for an extended period of time (average
participation is 12 months)
• Individual support sessions are available and participants are
encouraged to attend, to assist them to work toward their
• 8 week art therapy program runs twice a year utilizing a qualified
• Six social outings available for participants each year
• Potential participants are required to attend an initial
• Be Well has minimal exclusion criteria – the program
welcomes people from diverse and disadvantaged
backgrounds, those who have dual diagnoses, people
struggling with addiction, domestic and family violence,
trauma and/or financial hardship.
• Essentially, it assists those most at risk of “falling through
the cracks” access to professional support and social
• As part of the intake process all participants complete a
‘Wellness Action Recovery Plan’ (WRAP) to identify areas of
needs, strengths and establish steps to work toward
• Quarterly, within individual sessions and once each group
term, participants are given an opportunity to assess their
progress using a modified ‘Star Tracker.’
Client demographic data from the last 6 months only.
Number of clients :56
Country of Origin
Client demographic data from the last 6 months only;
Number of clients :56
Mental Health or PTSD 34%
Depression, Anxiety, Panic 30%
Emotional Regulation & Stress 9%
AOD Use – Own 9%
Family & Domestic Vioence, Physical/Emotional abuse 2%
Grief & loss 2%
Family, Relationships, Separation 5%
Sexual Assault/Abuse 2%
Vocational & Work Related 2%
• DAILY LIVING:
• Encouraging movement
• SMART goal setting
• Transport assistance
• Advocacy support services
• Referrals to financial counselling / centrelink information
• Emergency relief
• Group outings (Art gallery, Hyde park, lunch)
• Coffee mornings and support/recovery group
• Art Therapy
• Mindful movement and munching
• School holiday activities
• Career information and goal setting
• Referrals to parents next internally
• Cert II in Leadership
• FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS:
• Referrals to Domestic violence & family therapy services
• Relationship discussions in support group
• Free Creche support
• Referrals to “kids in focus” internally
• HEALTH (Physical/Mental/Emotional):
• Physical – internal clinic, nutrition / cooking, movement/dance/yoga
• Mental – support & recovery group, 1:1 support/counselling face-face/phone,
psychoeducation, peer support
Daily Living Health Leisure/social work/education Family
Poor Fair Good Very good
• “A nice variety of topics, fun and informative.”
• “I have somewhere to go out to be with other women, and
be safe to be myself. There is no threat to my safety.”
• “It helped my mental health meeting people with mental
illness like me.”
• “I thought it was very helpful for my mental health, moods
and I met some lovely people.”
• Prevalence and course of mental health issues, including
different impacts of biological, psychological and social
factors in causation (Judd et al, 2009).
• Prevalence of internalizing and externalizing disorders,
with women presenting with higher rates of mood and
anxiety disorders, than men, for example (Eaton et al, 2011).
• This underlies the importance of women-centred mental
healthcare models. Treatments should be informed by
knowledge and understanding of gender differences (Judd et
• Research studies support gender-focused prevention
and treatment interventions (Eaton et al, 2011).
• A sense of belonging and cohesiveness is fostered, that is
developed by clients key commonalities and shared focus
around the group topics and tasks (Golden & Dominiak, 1986).
• Women report higher satisfaction, and greater improvement
in post-treatment reduction of AOD use (Greenfield et al, 2007).
• Women more frequently report feelings of safety, empathy,
intimacy and honesty, embracing all aspects of one’s self,
and having their needs met (Greenfield,2013)
• They promoted focus on gender-relevant topics that
support client recovery (Greenfield, 2013).
• Women with sexual abuse histories that are more likely
to complete and attend treatment programs than those
clients attending mixed groups (Copeland & Hall, 1992).
• Participants describe the groups as empowering
because of no gender differences in communication, and
providing a forum for frank discussions (ie: sexual and
physical issues) that may be impossible in mixed-gender
groups (Alexander, 1996).
• Female-only groups provide enormous benefits to
women including increased motivation, increased levels
of disclosure and access to appropriate support
(Sugarman, et al., 2016).
• One of the main aims of Womens Health and Family
Services is to provide integrated, comprehensive, quality
and gender specific services for women and their
• Improved data collation:
• Pre & Post-evaluation forms
• WHFS client satisfaction survey
• Wellness Recovery Action Plans
• Quarterly tracker (individual)
• Term tracker (group)
• Peer Support: Increase peer support training and
opportunities for clients who self-elect.
• Carer support: Introduction of support for carers/family
members of those supporting someone who experiences
mental health issues
• Continuous improvement: Increased support and
formalised relapse prevention planning for longer term
• Graduation: Marked occasion for longer term clients
leaving the program to acknowledge and celebrate their
time and progress
Womens Health & Family Services
Northbridge: 6330 5400
Joondalup: 9300 1566
Alexander, M.J. (1996). Women with co-occurring addictive and mental disorders: An emerging profile of vulnerability.
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 66(1), 61-70.
Copeland, J., & Hall, W.D. (1992). A comparison of predictors of treatment drop-out of women seeking drug and alcohol treatment
in a specialist women's and two traditional mixed-sex treatment services. British journal of addiction. 87(6), 883-
Eaton, N.R., Keyes, K.M., Krueger, R. F., Balsis, S., Skodol, A.E., Markon, K. E., Grant, B.F., & Hasin, D.S. (2011). An
invariant dimensional liability model of gender differences in mental disorder prevalence: Evidence
from a National Sample. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 121(1), 282-288.
Golden, D L. & Dominiak, G.M. (1986). Single-gender group psychotherapy: a "women’s group" for adolescent inpatients.
Group, 10(4), 217-227.
Greenfield, S.F., Cummings, A.M., Kuper, L.E., Wigderson, S.B., & Koro-Ljungberg, M. (2013). A qualitative analysis
of women’s experiences in single-gender versus mixed-gender substance abuse group therapy.
Substance Use and Misuse. 48(9), 772–782.
Greenfield, S.F., Truccob, E.M., McHugh, R.K., Lincoln, M., & Gallop. R J. (2007). The Women’s Recovery Group Study: A Stage
I trial of women-focused group therapy for substance use disorders versus mixed-gender group drug counseling.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 90(1): 39–47.
Judd, F., Armstrong, S., & Kulkarni, J.(2009). Gender-sensitive mental health care. Australasian Psychiatry. 17(2), 105-111.
Manuel, J.I., Hinterland, K., Conover, S., & Herman, D.B. (2012). ‘‘I hope I can make it out there’’: Perceptions of women with
severe mental illness on the transition from hospital to community. Community Mental Health Journal 48, 302–
Sugarman, D.E., Wigderson, S.B., Iles, B.R., Kaufman, J.S., Fitzmaurice, G.M., Hilario, Y., Robbins, M.S., & Greenfield, S. F.
(2016). Measuring affiliation in group therapy for substance use disorders in the Women’s Recovery Group
Study: Does it matter whether the group is all-women or mixed-gender? American Journal of Addiction. 25(7):