‘We just want you to be comfortable and safe’: Joel’s journey at WSLHD’s mental health service, Safe Haven

Safe Haven, the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) initiative dedicated to providing support for individuals battling mental health challenges, has been garnering attention for its transformative impact.

Joel Love, a 37-year-old project manager, engaged with the service after recognising he was struggling with his mental health.

While initially apprehensive, Joel’s fears were immediately dispelled upon arrival.

“I was so scared to go there; I didn’t know what to expect. However, the moment I turned up, I was welcomed into Safe Haven,” he said.

“They offered me a drink of water, and I’ll never forget the person who helped me the first time, Aishah. She explained that ‘you can just chill out here or talk about what’s going on. There’s no right answer; we just want you to be comfortable and safe’.

“I opened up soon after, and Aishah and I swapped stories of struggle, how we handled it, who we relied on, and made a safety plan.

“Leaving there that night, and every other night I’ve been there, resulted in me going from a place of huge negativity to a sense of calm and a mentality of “I’ve got this; I can get through my issues.”

When asked to rate the care he received at Safe Haven, Love unhesitatingly awarded a perfect score of 10/10. He asserted that the initiative is precisely what NSW Health needs to prioritise in their mental health strategies.

“Mental health is just as important as your physical health,” Joel said.

“There are plenty of people in the community, friends, and family who don’t understand this. But please reach out to those you know who can help you.

“Sometimes it’s trial and error, and that’s okay. Open up, tell people how you feel, don’t stay in the depression ‘cave’ for too long.

“Life does get better, and there are friends, family, and Safe Haven that can help you get through it. Your feelings are valid, and you don’t need to face this alone.”