How peer support inspired my future
6 minute read

Mind Australia Peer Practitioner Ashleigh Leventhal says her stay at Rockingham Step Up Step Down helped her see a future she didn’t realise was possible.  

Ashleigh was referred to Rockingham Step Up Step Down – known locally as Kwelena – by her psychologist following a long history of mental illness. 

“I have been unwell since I was a child. I think I ended up with seven different diagnosis of mental health conditions at one point and I didn’t expect to survive my youth at all,” she said. 

“I was terrified I was going to be put in hospital, but my psychologist said there was a place that would be good for me. I didn’t believe her at first.” 

Kwelena is a short-term residential mental health recovery support service, often used as an alternative to a hospital admission. Residents at Kwelena are supported by a partnership of clinical and psychosocial support staff who work with residents to achieve stabilised mental health and to build the skills needed to live safely and securely in the community. 

“I remember when I went in to Kwelena I was crying and I was begging them to see me outside of my diagnosis,” Ashleigh said.  
“They said to me ‘Ash, we’re not going to put you in a box. We just want to know about you and your story.’ That was the first time in my life I felt like someone heard me and believed in me.”

They really pulled me up and showed me that I could take control over my life.
- Ashleigh Leventhal, Peer Practitioner, Mind Australia

Ashleigh said it took her a while to open up to staff at Kwelena. 

“Eventually I started sharing what my hopes were for the future that I wanted to be a peer worker and work in mental health. But I thought I was too unwell and I’d never hold a job or never do this or do that,” Ashleigh said. 

“They really pulled me up and showed me that I could take control over my life, and I didn’t think that was possible. 

“It was a peer worker who showed me that I didn’t have to be this perfectly well person to be in recovery. She was living proof to me that things can get better, you can go through trauma and live a good life.” 

When she left Kwelena Ashleigh embarked on her dream of becoming a peer practitioner and studied a Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work. 

Once she completed her studies and student placement, Ashleigh applied for a job at Kwelena where she is using her lived experience to support other people experiencing mental health and wellbeing challenges. 

Peer practitioners like Ashleigh use their own lived experience to provide practical and emotional support to others who are struggling. 

Ashleigh says securing work and being able to help others has given her life hope and purpose. 

“Now I feel like I’m a grown adult that has a job and contributes to society, and I didn’t think that was possible at one point,” she said. 

If you would like more information about Mind services near you, please contact us via Mind Connect or phone: 1300 286 463. 

Service details
14 Payne Street, Rockingham, 6168, WA
Provides a place for people experiencing mental distress to work on mental health recovery, and to make plans for living safely, independently and well in the community.
In person 18-64 Paid

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, please contact us.

1300 286 463 
[email protected]  

Kylie Phillips

Psychologist Kylie Phillips says Mind’s Allied Health services can support people through all sorts of life challenges that cause psychological distress.

Kylie supports people experiencing mental health challenges relating to things like relationship conflict, domestic or family violence, bullying, adapting to major life adjustments or work/education pressure.

Hayley Farnan

Psychologist Hayley Farnan says Mind Australia’s Allied Health services can help people achieve their goals, develop important life skills and, most importantly, find joy and purpose in their lives.

Two women sitting together smiling

Haven Pakenham resident Sam says it’s time to normalise conversation about mental health in the ongoing fight against stigma.

Latest news