The Journey from Isolation to Telling a New Story

The 2018 International Mental Health Conference is almost upon us again, this year the conference will be held over the 8th – 10th August at the RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, Queensland.

This annual conference is now in its 19th year and continues to be the pinnacle event in the mental health industry. The Conference provides an invaluable opportunity to build relationships and to share knowledge, research and latest policies.

Mrs Denise Spencer, Peer Support Worker at HelpingMinds joins us at the conference to discuss ‘The Journey from Isolation to Telling a New Story’.


My name is Denise Spencer I have worked for HelpingMinds as a Peer Support Worker for four years. In my first year, one of the main things that I became aware of while working with my Peers was the prevalence of isolation in their lives. This isolation led to deep loneliness, low confidence, feeling fearful, and a lack of interest in life. They were telling themselves the same story.

Over two years ago I started a walking group and a Ladies social group for women over 65. I call them my dignity girls. Since then, I have seen lives transformed as they have found their places of belonging, reducing the isolation in their lives. As it is a Peer led group, it is all about reciprocity and equality, fairness and recovering dignity.
One of my favourite things in working with my Peers, is seeing them being able to tell themselves a different story. I am a bit of a digger and I dig around to find their place of belonging, the things that make them smile and help them believe that change is possible in their journey.

I have three peer stories to share. Each shows how meeting in groups has helped people with mental health challenges recover their dignity and gain a new story to tell.


I come from a lived experience. One of the most life changing moments for me was when in hospital I first heard the word recovery. It was a light bulb moment for me and I embraced that word and worked hard towards my own journey of recovery. I am from the generation that never spoke about depression and became great at hiding behind my lipstick. One of the biggest things for me was the feeling of isolation when I hit times of un-wellness. Even though I am blessed with great family support, the feelings of loneliness would engulf me.

For further information on the upcoming 19th International Mental Health Conference and to secure your spot please visit


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