People who experience both mental health and substance abuse issues are being encouraged to `get amongst it’ at an event on the Warrnambool Civic Green on October 10. The Dual Diagnosis Advocates Group is hosting the free event which will feature activities and performers and is designed to invite people experiencing dual diagnosis issues back into the mainstream community.The advocates group involves professionals from many services across the south west and aims to ensure people who experience dual diagnosis are supported by all services. Members are from South West Healthcare Mental Health Services, including clinicians, consumers and carers, Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD) Aspire, MIND, Department of Justice, Child Protection, Centrelink, Headspace and Brophy Family and Youth Services.

Dual diagnosis refers to people who have both a substance use disorder and a mental illness.

On behalf of the organising committee, South West Healthcare Mental Health Services Dual Diagnosis Development Officer Jillian Reid said the event would focus on the concept of inclusion and promote the notion that everyone regardless of their condition is a valuable member of society. “The impact dual diagnosis has on lives is quite extensive and complex,” Ms Reid said. “Stigma associated with mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse can disenfranchise people from the mainstream community which can exacerbate their unhealthy lifestyle and choices.This event will highlight the supports available for them and that we encourage them to be active members of society,” she said.

One in five people will have a mental illness during their life and one in three of those will experience a related substance use disorder.

Get Amongst It is designed to encourage people experiencing a dual diagnosis to get back into the mainstream community.It will be held between 10am and 2pm and will showcase healthy food, physical activities and fitness, spiritual and cultural information, vocational opportunities, support from government departments, community social groups, and activities and programs for all to engage in to achieve optimal health and wellness.

Get Amongst It will highlight the “no wrong door” philosophy which assists clients to connect with the correct service. The event is being staged as part of Mental Health Week and will include theatre, dance and music.

Any queries about the event can be directed to Ms Reid on 55619100.