Tenille's passion

TENILLE Thornton is a young lady who feels fortunate to have a career that allows her to follow her passion, but it's not in a field you might expect someone so young to be passionate about. 

Tenille Thornton is thankful for her work in the mental health field.

Tenille Thornton is thankful for her work in the mental health field.

As the world acknowledges Mental Health Week, Ms Thornton will take part in local events and celebrate the advancements that have been made in breaking stigmas around mental illness. 

Nyah-based Ms Thornton was aged 20 when she entered the mental health field as a support worker at Mallee Family Care and almost seven years on cannot imagine doing another job that offers the fulfilment.

"It's just so rewarding to see somebody in recovery and being able to live a full life with their mental illness," she said.

"When people come into the service they are often very unwell and it's a privilege to walk alongside them on their road to recovery.

"The work is very interesting because we work with people from a full spectrum of mental illness from anxiety and depression through to schizophrenia."

Ms Thornton said one of the greatest changes she has seen in her career is the reduction of stigma which she believes assists people who are mentally unwell to approach services for help. 

But she still believes there is a ways to go before eliminating it. 

"I can even see it in my own friendship and social circles," she said.

"People are much more open to talking about it and discussing their own experiences whether it be themselves, a friend or family member.

"Acceptance can often be the first step to recovery so breaking down stigma and myths surrounding mental illness is crucial.

"Mallee Family Care offers a unique mental health service in Swan Hill and one of the most important things we offer is hope."

Tenille's team leader Lyn Andrew echoed those sentiments.

"We are the only Swan Hill based mental health service who offer a psycho-social support," she said.

"That support is different to clinical services in that we don't diagnose people and we don't give medical advice. 

"We work beside the other clinical services and our focus is around helping people who's everyday life is affected by their mental illness."

Ms Thornton said she hoped Mental Health Week activities happening in Swan Hill would educate the community further about mental illness and promote conversations.

"An important stage in an illness is to understand it and learn what things in life help and what things make it worse.

"A lot of people think with any illness that recovery means being back to how you were before you got sick," she said.

"For example, if someone breaks their arm they consider themselves well once the arm has healed back to how it was before the break.

"But mental illness is different.

"Recovery occurs once the person learns to live well with their mental illness and can go on to live a rich and fulfilling life with their mental illness. 

"Assisting people to understand that and watching them flourish is such a rewarding aspect of the work I do."

Ms Thornton will stand alongside her colleagues on Friday as they take part in activities to help break stigma and promote self-care and wellbeing. She encourages all community to get involved by participating in a walk around the CBD at 11am on Friday to help break stigma. 

Swan Hill's first ever wellbeing and self-care expo will then take place in the Town Hall from 12-2pm. 

Ms Thornton will be there helping people to make their own slime stress ball as a tool they can take home and implement to assist with maintaining mental wellness.

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