12 January 2022

Written by Heather - a former Haven homes resident.

Four years ago, I nearly lost my life after a long, painful battle with complex mental illness. In 2017 I was resuscitated when my mind and body could no longer tolerate the torture that I had put them through after almost 20 years of severe anorexia nervosa.

My illness made independent living extremely difficult. Several times throughout my undergraduate studies, I would move out of home only to become unwell and unable to stay well. My family also endured my illness; living at home placed an immeasurable burden on my mother and two sisters.

Upon discharge from St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, and a referral to Mind Australia I learnt about Haven Homes. The suggestion of “supported accommodation” made me shudder, however the opportunity at Haven sounded amazing. I would have 24/7 support, yet also my very own independent unit, complete with bathroom, laundry facilities, and appliances. It sounded too good to be true!

In October 2018, I was officially Haven Frankston’s first resident – I recall fondly, the first night, being alone in my unit. The person on duty was a friendly young Mind staff member named Alex. At bedtime, I actually wondered… should I be letting staff know I was going to bed?

The three years at Haven were the stepping-stone to my recovery. Recovery from complex mental illness is a hard-fought battle, and few people can appreciate what it takes to overcome a chronic, enduring eating disorder.

I am writing this reflection from my new apartment! I signed the lease to a fully independent private rental, and I celebrate my recovery on the first night in my new home by having Uber Eats delivered for the first time! The significance of this meal and the journey it represented was perhaps more ‘delicious’ than dinner itself.

The Haven and Mind Australia have played a huge part in my recovery journey. Many staff were not familiar with eating disorders, though most were open to learning how to support me. I met my key worker (Isha) via community outreach in 2018 and she went above and beyond to understand what can be a baffling illness. Isha has a quiet wisdom, and always listened actively, and compassionately. Most meaningfully, she always displayed curiosity, and if she didn’t understand what was going on for me, she would simply ask – and then reflect afterwards before we met again. This meant I felt safe, always, with Isha and trusted her implicitly.

At the Haven, I had my independence, yet also knew I had strong shoulders to lean on which without a doubt enabled me to leave behind decades of illness and numerous inpatient hospital admissions. The Haven is a little community, and I often find myself thinking about Tamara, Sarah and little Benji, Nic, Brodie and - I really miss Pete telling me the weather forecast!

I am now moving forward in my journey. This year I will submit my PhD thesis and begin working part-time as a teaching associate at Monash University. It is my every wish that others can have the opportunity which Haven afforded me. Thank you, Mind and Haven!

For more information about Haven Homes contact Mind Connect – 1300 286 463.



Psychosocial supports – like the kind provided by Mind Australia – help people with mental health and wellbeing issues manage daily activities, rebuild and maintain connections, engage with education and employment, and participate fully in the community. These are supports which help people take positive steps in their recovery journey.  

If this article raises concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders can also call 13 YARN (13 92 76) a 24/7 national crisis support telephone service staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Heather profile photo