ACT Women and Mental Health Working Group (WMHWG)

The ACT Women and Mental Health Working Group (WMHWG) has been meeting since August 2007 and was formed to provide a regular forum in which women living with mental health issues and supportive service providers could come together and consider current issues. The group also develops and implements strategies to influence positive change.

The WMHWG meets bi-monthly and has a membership of over 50 service providers and individuals—many of whom are unable to attend the meetings but who stay connected via regular bi-monthly email updates. Membership is open to women living with mental health issues and the service providers that support them.

The WMHWG assists women living with mental health issues to voice their concerns and provides input on how to develop and maintain a full range of women friendly services.

WCHM supports and facilitates the group’s meetings, provides a secretariat function and facilitates an email list for the group to share information. WCHM also supports the Group’s participation in decision-making processes about policy and ensures that women’s concerns are raised in existing networks, organisations and government processes. WCHM uses the results of the Group’s discussions to inform joint submissions to relevant consultations.

The WMHWG also commissions work from WCHM to document specific issues and stories for women with mental health issues in the ACT.

In 2009 WCHM documented access to legal services for women living with mental health issues. In 2011 WCHM published a report on the views of women mental health carers about health and wellbeing information as well as a major research report on peer support for women living with mental health issues. At present, WCHM is finalising a report about the needs and experiences of women mental health carers. Currently the WMHWG and WCHM are planning research into the area of motherhood and mental illness.

The WMHWG is also providing expert advice and direction in the development of a number of WCHM position papers and documents, including a position paper on Mental Health Consumer and Carer Representation, a position paper on Systemic Advocacy and the Social Determinants of Mental Health, and guidelines for services on supporting ACT women to participate in consultations and decision making processes. These documents will provide both theoretical (policy) and practical (procedural) tips on how to better support and engage ACT women in internal decision making processes.

To find about more about WMWHG or about the bi-monthly meetings, please email admin@wchm.org.au or call 6290 2166.