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‘Just Listening’: Community space for people experiencing distress opens

2 min read
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Opening in Christies Beach, the Just Listening Community (JLC) is a free community space offering connection to people experiencing emotional or suicidal distress or those with an important story to share.

The Just Listening Community provides an alternative pathway to support for community members outside of the Mental Health Act and the mental health system. The service is led by Humane Clinic practitioners and staffed by volunteers who have completed the six-week Just Listening training program.

This community-based model aims to reduce the number of mental health related presentations to hospital emergency departments. The model builds the capacity of communities to support each other by offering human-to-human connection while resisting the urge to fix or provide solutions, removing the unequal power dynamic often present between a person seeking support and the person providing it.

The JLC is a project conceived and directed by Humane Clinic founder and 2017 Australian Mental Health Nurse of the Year, Matt Ball and is co-located with the Humane Clinic in the Humane Community Mental Health Centre. Humane Clinic offers psychotherapy and counselling services, as well as delivering training and consultancy nationally and internationally.

“By you coming in distress and by me offering myself, my heart, and my intention to listen deeply, not only do you feel connected, but I feel connected, and we walk away together feeling more powerful and more energised to face the future,” said Ball.

“We can understand that a person who is in distress or suicidal is providing an important narrative and message to our community, representing a knowing of problems that exist between and within the community,” he said.

The JLC is a project of Humane Clinic, supported by Community Health Onkaparinga (CHO), the Fay Fuller Foundation (FFF), and other South Australian based philanthropic funders.

“The aim of our support is to test this idea and to scope where next so that we can have Just Listening Communities rolled out across not only metropolitan Adelaide, but in our rural and regional towns as well, ” said Niall Fay, CEO, Fay Fuller Foundation

“For people in distress to be able to turn up and see that someone valued them enough to create this space – I think is one of the most wonderful statements for the refuge we hope this place will be,” said Richard Schirmer, Committee Member, Community Health Onkaparinga.

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