17 October 2022
Ryan Tout was in hospital following a mental health episode in 2015.
The 36-year-old remembers the chance conversation with a stranger that sparked the turning point in his life and his mental health recovery journey.
“I met a peer support worker when I was in hospital and I thought that [peer support] is something I could do with my life once I was well enough,” Ryan said.
“It was just a five-minute chat with that peer support worker who happened to be from Mind. They weren’t there to see me but because they were kind enough to spend time with me, I knew that I wanted to work for that organisation.”
Fast-forward seven years and Ryan is using his lived experience of mental ill-health and recovery in his role as a Peer Support Housing and Recovery Coordinator with the From Homelessness to a Home program in Loddon Mallee and Barwon South, Victoria.
Ryan, who has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, anxiety and severe dyslexia, helps people who have experienced homelessness to transition from rough sleeping or temporary hotel accommodation into longer-term, secure housing.
Once From Homelessness to a Home clients have been appropriately housed, Mind staff like Ryan provide psychosocial support, assisting clients with things like getting medical and personal appointments, advocating for NDIS support and helping them to engage with community.
“Being able to help people like this is the reason I get out of bed in the morning,” Ryan said.
“Without it I don’t think I could function. It’s my whole reason for living – I love it.”
Peer practitioners like Ryan draw on their own lived experience of mental ill-health to provide the sort of support and build the trust that only someone who has walked in a client’s footsteps can provide.
“Being a peer support worker, I have gone through my own mental health journey. This means I can create a true connection with a client,” Ryan explained.
“For a client, knowing that someone has gone through something similar to what you are going through, knowing someone is there for you and having a living example that recovery is possible is important – I know this because it’s what I felt in hospital. If they can do it why not me?”
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.
If you would like more information about Mind, please contact us via Mind Connect or phone: 1300 286 463.