In part one of Helen’s story, we unpacked how purposeful employment gave Helen an anchor after her time in prison. In part two, we look at some of the mental health tools that supported Helen’s healing both before and after incarceration.
Powerful mental health tools
After her time on bail and in prison, Helen had to re-enter society, a transition that has had its own set of challenges and obstacles to face.
“It’s funny because you don’t really feel like you’re rebuilding anything, you just feel like you’re mostly just holding on. But having things in place – like family support, psychotherapy and a job – it gets you through. And it’s only when you’re reflecting backwards that you can have a bit of space and distance to see what it all meant.”
In her mental health toolkit, Helen cites movement, meditation and support from those close to her as crucial to her recovery journey.
Movement can be expressive, like dance, or simple, like going on a long walk. There are many benefits of exercise for mental health, particular as it can release serotonin and endorphins into your body to help boost your mood.
“It’s been a place where I don’t have to speak,” she explains. “And I can just be. Sometimes I find it hard to put my feelings into words, so having a movement practice of dance and yoga has become a big part of my healing journey.”
Meditation and mindfulness
Mindfulness can be a valuable tool to manage depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Similarly, meditation can offer a free and accessible way for anyone to tune into their inner world and self-soothe.
“Meditation has been like a significant help,” Helen proclaims. “I can share that it’s been really hard because when I get quiet, my mind gets really loud. And when it gets really loud, it’s also really hard to hear myself.”
“I started off trying to seek some kind of clarity or understanding and the more I practice I realise it’s more about acceptance of what is. I wish more people could find their own flavour of meditation or mindfulness because it’s been such a giving practice for me.”
Someone on your side
Exiting prison can be a shock, especially if someone doesn’t have any support. There’s a large gap between when a woman leaves prison and is able to access NDIS funding, which is a concern. This is where One Good* Day can make a big difference.
Our NDIS Recovery Coaches can begin working with incarcerated women while they’re still serving a sentence to lessen that gap and make sure they have support services lined up when they’re released.
“People have had a lot of factors that led them to be there. But when they’ve become ‘clean’ and they’ve got some clarity, they get such hope for a better life and a better future. But it’s still really hard. I have family and friends that stuck through it with me and I feel like support was something that was really scarce in prison. Some people don’t even have a friend that they can trust.”
“So what often happens is that they get really hopeful and have a ‘I can do this’ mentality, and then they trip up because there’s no one there to support them in any way. I wasn’t caught in a negative cycle per se, but I can see how hard the transition out of the justice system is for people who don’t have any support.”
Incarcerated women deserve better support
“There are supports, but they’re really time limited and resource poor. Plus they also fall within a system,” Helen explains. “So there’s a bit of a stigma around the transition, as well as a lack of personalised guidance around what to do next. A One Good* Day Recovery Coach in that space could become such a protective factor, and a significant piece of the puzzle.”
Reach out to us on 1300 146 631 or contact us here to learn about how a Recovery Coach can be your personal cheerleader and guide on the path to mental health recovery.