Grass roots mental health care

JOHN Mendoza has spent three decades in public health.

During that time he has seen governments repeatedly ignore the need for grass roots co-ordinated care for people with mental health or other chronic illnesses.

But according to Prof Mendoza, things are changing.

“Democracy is on the move, citizens around the world are fed up with the nonsense of politicians constantly keeping them in the dark,” Prof Mendoza said.

“They are saying ‘we can do better ourselves – we want to do things for ourselves and not be dependant on the whim of government’.”

Enter the idea of social enterprise, a model from the United Kingdom, which is all about building for-profit businesses that have social good at their core.

“This is a new method, which I believe we will see growing in the future. Examples already seen in Australia are the ‘green’ technology companies who return their profits to their shareholders.”

The idea also extends to mental health, such as Madcap Cafe, a cafe franchise in Melbourne run by people with mental illness.

Locally the idea is being explored in the Nambucca Vazlley with the Social Enterprise for Wellbeing and Mental Illness conference on February 24 and 25 at which Prof Mendoza will be a guest speaker.

“Social enterprise is people taking control of their own destiny with social cohesion as an important goal.

“By providing services to the community in this way, people have a sense of belonging and commitment ... this flows through to the mental health and wellbeing of community members.”

Examples of local enterprises include the Men’s Shed, MiiMi Creations and MiiMi Volunteer Hub. For more information about the conference go to or contact Kerry Grace on 0404 887 473.

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