- What makes the work you do at Skylight so rewarding?
Our vision and approach "See Mental Health Differently" means that we don't focus on a diagnosis or a label, but we work within a recovery-based framework, where we highlight each person's potential and goals.
Almost 80% of Skylight Mental Health’s staff identify as having a direct lived experience of mental health concerns or as a carer of someone with a mental health concern and we are proud to show our commitment to a lived experience model of service.
- Have you seen a significant increase in services since the digital era has really taken off?
Absolutely. Our Strategic Plan includes a major goal to ‘Connect with Technology’. How we connect with participants and each other has changed forever. We are committed to using technology to support better services for participants and better systems for staff. Participants are much more likely to engage with our online groups using Zoom and book in non-face-to-face supports. The practicalities of the COVID-19 climate increase these, but we believe the benefits of digital connections will have a lasting place in our services.
- What do you do as staff to look after your own mental health?
With a staff team of almost 80% with a lived experience and our commitment to shared humanity where any of us could experience a mental health issue, taking care of our mental health is so important. Skylight uses a reputable Employee Assistance Program to support staff anonymously around any issues. We are committed to a workplace where staff can ‘love their job’ with flexible work from home and office options, good conditions, and positive work relationships. It’s less about what we do, more about who we are, or at least try to be.
- How do you manage reach in the broader South Australian area?
Skylight has locations across SA including regional areas. We have locations and support across the Limestone Coast, Murraylands, Fleurieu Peninsula, and a location in Pukatja, in the APY lands.
Being a significant provider of NDIS services we have incrementally increased our staff and supports in a number of regional communities. Our investment in these areas has also helped us attract Government funding to increase our reach and presence.
- What do you hope to see in the future regarding mental health services and support throughout Australia?
The recent Victorian Mental Health Royal Commission and the Productivity Commission Report on mental health highlighted that as many as 600,000 people in Australia have chronic mental health concerns but that there are enormous gaps in services and a flawed focus on acute rather than prevention services. We know that the early intervention, wellbeing focussed psychosocial services are the best responses to reduce the need for acute services now and into the future, but that often people must become acutely unwell before they are able to access services.
We know that funding to the sector is woefully inadequate and that current and past system, service, and funding responses have often not been effective in meeting the needs of people with a lived experience of mental illness.
Skylight hopes we are working toward a more holistic system where people can access the supports they need in the community as and when they need them, without rationing, and where people with a lived experience of mental illness are the ones designing, directing, and delivering these services in the future. Recommendations from the Commissions mentioned above will help create this, assuming governments actively support the necessary changes.
In the meantime, Skylight, with almost 80% of its workforce reporting a lived experience, will continue to work with people with mental health concerns to co-design, build and deliver the services they are looking for.