02 February 2016
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For young consumers with a mental illness who may be feeling distressed, nervous or agitated, sometimes it’s just a simple distraction that can bring a sense of calm and control to their mindset, whether it is something to focus on, fiddle with, cuddle, touch or even look at.

Karen Smit, a Registered Psychiatric Nurse from the Orygen Youth Health EPPIC B team in Sunshine, works with young people with signs and symptoms of psychosis who require community support. She explains that feelings of anxiety, aggression or irritation may take over during an interview, preventing the clinician from being able to engage with the consumer and see the complete picture.

“Often young people with a mental illness find it quite difficult to sit in a room, facing a clinician, with a dry interview, answering very important questions. They feel like they're under a spotlight,” she says.

Sensory modulation equipment, simple tools such as stress balls, weighted cushions and colouring books and pencils, can help to modify someone’s thoughts and behaviour and can be beneficial to consumers during interviews with their clinician.

Karen has signed up to The Royal Walk and Fun Run to help make a difference to her consumers. She’s created a team with fellow colleagues from Orygen and will also be bringing along husband James and their dog Affinity to do the 9km walk on Sunday 6 March.

“It's important to me to give back to the community in some way, and The Royal Walk and Fun Run seemed like a good way to do something that would benefit members of our community, and hopefully my own clients.”

“I'd like to raise enough funds to create a sensory modulation or mindfulness box for each of our interview rooms. It’s my hope that the sensory modulation equipment and mindfulness tools will aid and encourage our young people to open up and provide clinicians with a clearer picture about their emotional well-being, without feeling like they're in a formal setting,” she says.

“Having previously worked on acute inpatient wards where sensory modulation rooms or equipment are available, I understand the benefits of having this type of resource available to our consumers.”

More information:

The Royal Walk and Fun Run is on Sunday 6 March at Princess Park, Parkville. All funds raised go towards your chosen area within the hospital. Register now for the 4.5km or 9km walk or run at www.theroyalwalk.org.au. To donate to Karen and the team, visit their dedicated Orygen Region B team page.

Media Contact

For more information about this story, contact Communications on (03) 9342 7000 or email mh-communications@mh.org.au