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Casual Contributor

Loneliness and isolation after recovery

My 49 year-old son, diagnosed with schizophrenia in his late teens and then dual diagnosis, has had a very up and down life, with many psychiatric unit admissions.  He lives at home with me (his mother), and we are both content with this arrangement. He has taken various courses at TAFE when well, held down a variety of jobs in between psychotic episodes, the latest a one year stint at a coffee shop after completing a Barista course.  This suited him, as he is a sociable and presentable person when well.  He then had another stay in a psychiatric unit, and was discharged 18 months ago.  He has been well since and under the care of a Community Mental Health Team, on Community Orders and on anti-psychotic medication.  He has tried desperately to get a part-time job locally, as he has lost his Driver's Licence, with no success.  He has virtually no friends, as he steers clear of those he had because they were all drug addicts, and he fears further involvement would jeopardise his mental health again.  He has also tried to register as a Volunteer locally, but does not qualify because of his record.

He needs a part-time job and some "straight" friends.  His Case Manager has told him he does not qualify for the Compeer programme (which links people afflicted with mental illness with friends who will chat on the phone, go on outings, etc.)  He has two little dogs who mean a lot to him, and takes them on several long walks daily.

If anyone is in the same situation, please let me have any ideas to better his life


Re: Loneliness and isolation after recovery

Sounds like a very tough time for your son.  For community peer supports, I don't know whuch state you are in, but have you tried places like Young ARAFMI or the Mental Illness Fellowship?  I am surprised that the hospital from his last stay did not provide any information about NGOs/community supports apart from the one you mentioned.  I have also heard of volunteer groups like 'Group 66' that apparently provide personal individual support for people with mental illness on the form of outings, etc. for a specified number of hours per week with someone from the community (not necessarily someone with mental illness).  It may be worth investigating with your son's case worker if there are any clubhouses or other peer support groups that may be suitable if you haven't done so already.

Re: Loneliness and isolation after recovery

Thanks, Sally.  I live in Sydney. My son has attended a couple of groups suggested by his Case Worker, and they seem to be for seriously-affected people with whom he has nothing in common, and in his words, "I would just like to meet normal people".  Have just looked up the organisations you mention - most seem concerned with young people, and my son is 49.  Group 66 does not come up on Google as a volunteer group. Thank you for your response and interest.

Re: Loneliness and isolation after recovery

Hi EH123, The volunteer group I mentioned, Group 61 (sorry not Group 66), also has a Facebook page, so you and your son might want to check it out.  They may also have some suggestions about similar services that are more local to you?  Worth a look.

Re: Loneliness and isolation after recovery

Many thanks, Sally - will check things out.

Re: Loneliness and isolation after recovery

He should join a dog club meet friends share a common interest

Re: Loneliness and isolation after recovery

I used to be a member of a Lions Club here in Sydney for over 10 years.  Lions Clubs are always looking for new members to join.  Each club has a different schedule of meetings and are involved in different activities - both service and social.  The club I was in had 45 members ranging in age from 30 - well over 80.  This is something worth looking into.  Joining a club like this is also a great way of networking with like-minded people in your local community and may open doors for employment.  Each club is very different so it may be worthwhile "shopping around" to find one that he feels most comfortable with.  

I am fairly sure that Coles and ? Woolworths employ people with disabilities.  Having a mental illness would fall into this category.  They are partnered up with an organisation called Disability Works Australia.  Here is the link

The other thing worthwhile would be looking for work in the form of odd jobs (and some are very odd - I once saw a job requiring someone to sit in a pub for a couple of hours for three days to see if a lady's husband was there having drinks as he said) etc on Airtasker which is a community marketplace for work.

If he has spare time on his hands perhaps enrolling in a short course of some sorts (e.g. computer skills) will not only keep him occupied but may open the doors to meeting a new group of people. 

Just a few ideas here that I hope may help.

Janna ❤️

Re: Loneliness and isolation after recovery

Thank you for your input, Janna.  I have now emailed DWA with a brief outline and my son's CV.  Will also investigate Lions Club locally.  It is reassuring to know I have been heard, and can only hope one of the responses may result in a successful outcome.

Re: Loneliness and isolation after recovery

He does take his dogs to our local park every afternoon and many times meets other people with dogs. However, this is as far as others seem to want to take it.

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