How living at Haven prepared me for the next chapter of my life
6 minute read

Matt has come a long way from the isolated and shy person who moved into The Haven Foundation’s residence in Frankston two years ago.

The 40-year-old lives at Haven Frankston Wattle; a community housing residence with support staff for people experiencing significant mental health challenges.

At Haven residences people live in their own self-contained private apartments while working on their mental health recovery. Here they are supported to learn life skills, increase their confidence and build connection with community and other residents.

Matt, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, is now preparing to move out of Haven Frankston Wattle and start life with his fiancé Dannii – goals that once seemed like a distant reality.

“Before moving here at the end of 2021 I hadn’t been plugged into any mental health services for eight years and I had become isolated. Me and my Mum lived in a rural area and it was a bit lonely,” he said.

There’s always someone around to hang out with, have a cup of coffee or just talk about stuff
- Matt

“Living at Haven there has been more opportunities to go places and it’s closer to other supports. There’s something to be said about living in numbers and doing things together too; community connection is powerful and good for your mental health.

“Haven Frankston has been less isolating and there’s always someone around to hang out with, have a cup of coffee or just talk about stuff.”

Kate – a qualified community mental health practitioner and the service’s team leader – said Matt had made significant progress on his mental health recovery journey since he arrived.

“Initially he was reserved and he had trouble communicating with others. Now he’s much more confident and willing to engage with others, and he even initiates conversations,” Kate said.

“Attending group activities like sewing and arts and crafts with other residents has helped Matt gain confidence and improve his social interaction skills. We’re so proud of how far Matt has come in his journey, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.”

In March 2024 Matt will pack his bags, spread his wings and marry Dannii – the love of his life he met at a nearby church. In reflecting on his time at Haven Frankston Wattle, Matt said his favourite memories are ones shared with fellow residents.

“My best memories are playing guitar with Gary and the community barbecues we had for footy grand finals and Christmas Day celebrations,” he said.

Matt’s positive outcomes are consistent with recent progress reports from a four-year independent evaluation of Haven by La Trobe University. These reports indicate that Havens are helping residents experience:

  • a reduction in mental distress
  • improved self-confidence and skills for independent living, and
  • an enhanced sense of connection, empowerment and hope.

About Mind Australia and The Haven Foundation 

Mind Australia supports people experiencing mental health challenges to find help, hope and purpose in their lives. 

We partner with health, community, and government organisations to provide holistic support and a safe environment for people experiencing mental health challenges to live in the community.  

Mind is one of the leading specialist community housing providers in Australia for people experiencing a psychosocial disability.    

Haven residences have operated in Victoria since 2011. There are currently seven residences providing a home, stability and support to more than 100 people in Victoria, with more in development.   

Haven residences provide high quality, long-term housing with specialised 24/7 mental health support from Mind to help people live life to the fullest. This integrated social housing and support service is a partnership between Mind and The Haven Foundation – a subsidiary of Mind. 

If you would like more information about Mind services, contact us by submitting a form via Mind Connect or phone: 1300 286 463. 

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]  

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.

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

Jenni smiling with her dog

Jenni says living at The Haven Foundation’s residence in Frankston has improved her mental health, and her relationships with family.

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