Talk about it, make a difference

Latrobe Regional Hospital has launched a fundraising appeal to transform the ageing, drab courtyards in its psychiatric unit into a vibrant garden that can assist in mental health recovery.

Money raised from the 12-month appeal will go towards building a sensory garden and sensory rooms for the Flynn Unit, which is Gippsland’s only inpatient facility for people with mental health issues.

There are between 800 and 900 admissions to the unit each year.

LRH director of mental health Cayte Hoppner said updating the courtyards would give patients a much more pleasant environment for recovery.

“At the moment they are ageing. They’re not that pleasant, to be honest,” Ms Hoppner said.

“For the new courtyard, we’ll be looking at a whole range of visual cues, looking at things that feel nice, that look good.”

This year’s appeal is unique in that it will not only aim to raise money, but awareness.

Under the theme ‘Talk About It. Make a Difference’, LRH has invited local leaders, workplaces, sporting groups and service clubs to get educated about mental illness.

LRH board chair Kellie O’Callaghan said the hospital would have an “open door policy” in regard to speaking with the community.

“We’re going to be making information available, making sure our staff are available to talk to community groups and organisations,” Ms O’Callaghan said.

She called on members of the public to open the lines of communication in the workplaces, sporting clubs and within their own families to talk about issues relating to mental health.

LRH is the major provider of mental health services across Gippsland and could be supporting up to 1000 people at any one time.

To make a donation to the appeal, phone LRH fundraising manager Kylie Gore on 5173 8577.