“it’s about having someone in your corner…” : the value of psychosocial support

Posted on 8th March 2022
A cohealth worker and a client playing bowls outside in the park

Sitting in the sunshine sharing a cuppa, playing bowls in the park. It might not look like work but this is just one example of the many ways cohealth’s Commonwealth Psychosocial Support Services team works with participants to recover their mental health, general wellbeing and sense of agency in their lives.

Ian Amsden, specialist team support, works with a range of people, including Koula, seen in these photos. Part of cohealth’s Commonwealth Psychosocial Supports program (CPS), Amsden’s role is as varied as the participants he sees. On any day he might be taking people like Koula on an outing, supporting others at medical appointments, linking people with services and support or helping someone plan how to achieve their basic life goals. 

“Koula is an enthusiastic group attender. She’s feisty and has a great sense of humour, she’s also an extremely giving, generous person and loves to cook for others. But there’s challenges, there’s support she’s eligible for that’s not happening, so we’re working with her on that. It’s about improving the quality of her life and her relationships, “ he says. 


A cohealth worker and client playing bowls in the park


Amsden says the CPS team uses the Collaborative Recovery Model and compares their work to a coaching role. 

“We look at people’s strengths and values. We explore when they have been able to overcome challenges in the past and we aim to build their capacity and confidence.” 

“A lot of our work is about planning for things that people might like more of in their lives or might like to be different, identifying the things they struggle with.” 

The CPS program is a community-based mental health support service, available to people aged over 16 with severe mental health issues who are not receiving support from the NDIS and live in the Northwestern public health network region. Depending on people’s needs, the length of support can range from 12 weeks to 12 months. Participants work with community mental health recovery support coaches to learn strategies and develop skills aimed at building independence and improving wellbeing.  

cohealth runs the Commonwealth Psychosocial Support Service in partnership with Jesuit Social Services.  Staff across the two organisations work together as a team and provide the same kind of support to participants, with Jesuit Social Services team members available for after-hours support.  

Amsden says an important part of his role is linking people with services or supports that often they are not aware of or are having difficulty accessing. Many participants have challenges with work, COVID-related issues, parenting and affording small things that can make life a lot more comfortable. 

He recently supported a participant to access a better bed to avoid neck and back pain, and routinely goes along with people to appointments with GPs and other health professionals. 

“It’s about having someone in your corner as a coach that’s cheering you on, not telling you what to do necessarily, but there alongside you.”  

CPS is available to people over 16 who:   

  • are in need of community based mental health support  
  • experience severe mental health issues  
  • are not currently receiving NDIS 
  • live in or are connected to western areas of the Northwestern Melbourne PHN region (Brimbank, Melton, Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Wyndham and Moorabool). 

Anyone can make a referral, including self-referrals, health services, family members or friends. Psychosocial Support Service Mental health support in Northwestern  

For more information contact contact 9448-6880 or mh@cohealth.org.au  

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