Growing demand for The Banksia Project’s Growth Rooms

As the Banksia Project’s Growth Rooms continue to clone in NSW, the next wave of facilitator training is coming up towards the end of August.

Now in operation for three years, Growth Rooms are a place for males over the age of 18 to check in with trained facilitators and learn some life skills via a two-hour meet-up that is held each month.

“We train champions in the community to actually run our programs. It’s all peer-to-peer stuff,” explains Jack Jones, who runs the program for The Banksia Project.

“The guys connect with each other over two hours, they support each other through any challenges they may be going through, and our facilitators also deliver some really practical skills that these guys can learn to improve their health and wellness.

“Some of these topics are things like how important it is to exercise, but they also look at mental wellness topics, for example, how to deal with forgiveness, how to effectively communicate with a partner or loved one, how to deal with emotions safely and effectively. Really practical skills that these guys in the program can go and implement.

“All of our programs have been designed by mental health professionals.”

Community facilitators are given a half hour window after each Growth Room session to call a mental health clinician and say, ‘look this person is beyond my scope.’ They have a referral pathway to provide more professional support to participants and also a debrief session to check in with any confronting issues they may have experienced.

There are currently 200 men accessing 14 Growth Rooms in Sydney, with a further five more to launch in the next fortnight. There is also a Growth Room in Orange, in the central west region of NSW, and Dubbo, in the Orana Region.

The Banksia Project has plans to expand into Melbourne and Canberra in the next six months, and is “passionate about developing rural programs,” says Jack.

A Growth Room requires two facilitators to launch. Typically, 30-40 people will register for the [free] facilitator training, and while the day-long session includes personal growth training, those who apply as facilitators are screened before progressing.

“Our programs aren’t just for people with mental health issues, they are for people who are well also,” says Jack. “The whole point is to actually prevent a crisis rather and to give guys the tools beforehand. If people are struggling, they are still welcome to attend but we make sure they are seeking professional help if they have complex mental health challenges.

“For our facilitators, we are looking for people who have three hours spare. That’s all it takes to run one of our Growth Rooms. We like to take people who are mentally stable. A lot of people want to help but may not be in the best position to with their own mental health and wellness. That can be a danger to either themselves or the group, so we try to make sure people are healthy and well before giving them the responsibility of running one of these growth rooms.”

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