Supporting Families in Mental Illness Otago Tapestry
Clubhouse members (from left) Ken Grieve and Mervyn
McFadyen at Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin. Photo by Linda
A Dunedin service is weaving people with mental health
issues back into the workforce.
Tapestry Clubhouse programme facilitator Sharon Hardwick said
the Southern District Health Board funded the St Kilda
service that provided vocational and social rehabilitation.
Although the general focus of activities - such as clerical
work, public relations, cleaning, shopping, maintenance and
administrative tasks - was vocational, the clubhouse was not
a work training centre.
Work was a vehicle, not a goal, she said.
Tapestry Clubhouse member Ken Grieve (54), of Dunedin, has
been a clubhouse member for the past 10 years. He said he was
diagnosed with depression and had been unemployed for five
years before gaining transitional employment, through the
clubhouse, at Otago Polytechnic.
''It's nice to be able to say I work. It boosts your
self-esteem a great deal. You feel physically and mentally
better and you are interacting with good people. It gets you
involved and energised.''
The clubhouse staff never ordered members to work - jobs were
''And every time somebody puts their hand up. It makes them
feel more included. In the past, psychiatric places ordered
people to do things.
''The clubhouse is more about getting out of your head and
doing it off your own back.''
The staff were peers and members participated in the daily
decision-making of clubhouse life, Mr Grieve said.
The clubhouse way was a stark contrast to the past, when
people with mental illness were told what to do and
unco-operative people were ''locked up'', he said.
''That kind of old rubbish has gone and that's what makes
Tapestry so good; it's all volunteer.''
Mervyn McFadyen (58), of Dunedin, said he was diagnosed with
bipolar disorder in his early 20s and had been a clubhouse
member for the past 10 years.
He said anyone could get a mental health diagnosis ''out of
the blue'' and the clubhouse provided an encouraging
He had worked at the polytechnic on the transitional
employment programme for 11 months, which had been
''It has enriched my confidence and self-belief.''
He urged anyone with a mental health illness to ''step out''
from their ''comfort zone'' and seek support from the
''We all need to be nurtured at times.''
Mental Health Awareness Week started on Monday.