A DAY in the life of Marie Kelly, Rural Adversity Mental Health (RAMHP) co-ordinator for Far Western NSW, can often present challenges some of us can’t comprehend.
Marie lives in Ivanhoe, but much of her week is spent on the road, with at least three nights out of seven away from home.
She drives between 600 to 2000 kilometres each week, to ensure that she is reaching her vast and varied communities, providing them with the support they need.
In Marie’s boot, next to the spare tyre, you’ll find water, tinned food, toilet paper, matches, glow sticks, clothes for all weather, a pocket knife, a tarp, a trolley jack, a jump start compressor kit, various other tools and gadgets and a host of mental health resources and information.
She’s had to use just about all of these supplies in her travels. Long dirt roads, storms and animals present many-a-challenge in her work as a RAMHP co-ordinator, and she takes it all in her stride.
“The role in RAMHP is very rewarding and I like to think this work is making a difference to the lives of some people living in the Far West,” Marie said.
“The program is about raising awareness about mental health issues and connecting people to appropriate services.
“We do this through our training programs, providing information and resources, and building partnerships with organisations and individuals.
“I provide workshops, attend events and network with people.” Marie has been a nurse in the area for 26 years, mostly based in Menindee, but has worked or socialised in every community in the area over this time. She
loves the challenges, the country and is passionate about her communities and linking people to the care and support they need.
In a beautiful yet challenging environment, often battling a lack of internet and phone service to reach people, the work that Marie does is invaluable.
She works to ensure that those living in the far west of NSW are aware of the mental health services and supports available, as well as how and when to access them.
Marie’s training participants often speak of the personal benefits the training has had for them.
“I learned that there are people out there who will listen,” she said. “The key thing I learned is that I can deal better with the mental health issues in my family at the moment.
“I learnt to care for myself and others, and more about how to help support someone with a mental illness.
“I learnt that it’s ok to talk about issues, even if it’s contacting services in the community.
“I learned that everyone struggles with something in their lives and that we can be more aware of others needs and be able to help, and know who can be of help to others.”
Marie notes her role with RAMHP has made her more mindful of her own mental health as well as others’.
“I certainly have become more aware of my own mental health and make sure I do something each day to stay mentally healthy,” said Marie.
She spends her time outside of work volunteering for a number of causes, and contributing to her community, activities which instil a sense of belonging and purpose and keep her mentally well.